As an engineer who likes efficiency, I've tried a number of different CFL bulbs--probably about 100 in toto in the past decade or so--and figure that others wondering what to do in replacing lightbulbs (and electing politicians) might be interested in my experience.
The bulbs I like best are the simple bare bulb 60W equivalent in a "bright white" or "daylight" style; I've had to replace very few of them, and they seem to indeed last the full 5-10 years promised for such bulbs. I still doubt that they actually last the promised 10,000 hours of use, but they at least do indeed save money.
Second best are the 60W equivalent bulbs for recessed lighting--they also give you a few thousand hours of use, and really reduce the power needed to light a room. Honorable mention goes to some three way CFLs I bought about a decade ago. All of these lasted several thousand hours, even if I'm not sure that MTTF averaged 5000-10000 hours as promised.
Bulbs to avoid; as far as I can tell, the rest of them. Why so? I'm not sure, but my hunch is that the bulbs are really designed to work at "60W equivalent", and when the design is "tweaked" to work at 75W, 100W, or 40W equivalent, the designers simply haven't done the reliability work to make them actually work well.
The worst bulbs I've seen are the small round and enclosed bulbs intended for bathroom vanities. They literally do not last as long as the incandescent bulbs in the same fixture.
So a word to the wise; 60W recessed and bare CFLs work pretty well, and the rest? Well, write a letter to your Congressman letting him know that the claim that all CFLs work for 5-10 years is, to put it politely, false, and that he'd do well to lift the coming bans on incandescent bulbs if he wants your vote. Or, for that matter, a well lit bathroom.
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