We’ve all heard about the conservation benefits of using fluorescent lights — you can cut your lighting costs by more than half by using them.

They are far more efficient producers of light, and they have a lifespan of six to 10 times the life of the average incandescent lamp, so consumers save money by buying fewer lights over time. So why do some people remain leery of using them?

The design team has heard it often enough — many people have a notion that fluorescent light fixtures cast a greenish yellow glow that is most unattractive. And there was some truth to this many years ago. Luckily, those days are gone.

The technology of fluorescent lighting has developed enormously since then. The quality of light has improved, thanks to advances that allow more natural light to be produced.

Fluorescent lighting now comes in at least two types — a warm white, which mimics the warm yellowish glow of incandescent lights, and a cool white, which casts a whiter light with more blue tones in it.

Warm whites are often used in homes, as people are used to that inviting tone of light.

Cool whites, on the other hand, cast a whiter “daylight” colour with more blue and green in it. These tend to be used in offices, or in a contemporary or modern loft setting.

Not only that, the annoying flicker that was associated with fluorescent lighting is also a thing of the past, and this is because the ballast system that is necessary in fluorescent lighting has improved as well.

Nowadays, good quality fluorescent lighting has a non-flickering electronic ballast rather than the traditional magnetic one.

Another benefit is that fluorescent lighting by its very nature does not produce as much heat as incandescent bulbs — they generate a whopping 70 per cent less heat than incandescent bulbs. This difference can have a significant impact on reducing air conditioning costs in the summer.

And fluorescent bulbs and lamps now come in a wide range of sizes, shapes and wattages to fit many light fixtures.

For example, Sylvania lights come in 50 to 60 types of fluorescent bulbs, from compact twist or mini-twist bulbs, to chandelier bulbs of various types, globe, reflector, and, of course, long narrow lamps.

Do remember it is important to buy good quality fluorescent lights — the cheapest ones will not give you good service. (To be sure you’re getting a good quality bulb, look for the Energy Star rating — a government-backed program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect the environment through superior energy efficiency.)

Good quality bulbs will also have the benefit of reducing the levels of mercury and lead used in these lights.

As yet, there is no way around using these heavy metals in fluorescent lighting but you can minimize the amounts by purchasing low-mercury, long-life, high-performance lamps, such as Sylvania’s Ecologic line.

Normally, there is no release of mercury in your home through regular use — it would only happen if the lamp is broken.

And even then, the amount from a single bulb is very small, and would only become a health hazard at a disposal site, if a large number of lamps are disposed improperly.

The good news for the homeowner is that retailers such as Home Depot and IKEA accept fluorescent bulbs for recycling, so you can dispose of heavy metals properly.

Tammy Schnurr and Jeffrey Fisher are hosts of Arresting Design on W Network. Tammy is an interior decorator. Jeffrey designs home furnishings and bedding through his company Jeffrey Fisher Home.