Compact fluorescent light bulbs continue to be the most affordable option for energy efficient lighting. As more and more people switch to CFLs, however, there are bound to be situations where either the buyer doesn't heed the guidelines of the packaging, or the packaging contains insufficient guidelines. This leads to the misconception that CFLs don't live up to the claims of longevity made by manufacturers.
CFLs are a bit more finicky than incandescent light bulbs; some of the things that can affect their life span are excessive heat or vibration, enclosures, use with incompatible dimmers, fluctuations in power, and poor base contact with the fixture. It also matters whether the bulb is intended to be installed in a downward or upward position. Additionally, using a bulb that is too large for the fixture it is in can cause excessive heat, which is one of the most prominent reasons for early CFL failure.
It's important to install compact fluorescent light bulbs
correctly; screw in a CFL by holding the base of the bulb, not the glass portion. Take care that you do not install CFLs in overhead fans or near other vibration sources (such as garage door openers), as the rough service can shorten to life span of a CFL. Unless you have a newer CFL specifically made for rough service, keep them in solid, stationary places.
Do not use standard compact fluorescents in three-way sockets or with dimmers. CFLs can work in three-way sockets and dimmers, but they must be specifically engineered to do so. Check the packaging of CFLs to determine whether or not they are suitable for three-way sockets or dimmers. Manufacturers often guarantee their bulbs for varied durations, so you should also keep your receipts and write the date of first use on the packaging. If the bulb dies early, you might be able to contact the manufacturer for a replacement.