I disagree with your comments about compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs). They used to make you ugly but, well, they don’t anymore. Thanks to a number of improvements, CFLs have gotten far, far better in recent years. Newer CFLs actually give better light than typical incandescent light bulbs. Various new models also work with dimmer switches and come in enough shapes that they look pretty good in almost any fixture.
At least in my case, furthermore, CFLs have more than paid for themselves over time: in my old house, my electric bill went down nearly a quarter when I swapped them into almost every fixture.
But, obviously, they’re not for every need in every place. They have much higher up-front costs, are bad in areas like closets where you want light quickly but briefly, and will always be at least a tad bigger than their incandescent cousins.
I’m confident, however, that we’ll eventually find solutions to most of these problems.
And that’s why we don’t need a mandate: the rather slow speed at which CFLs have begun to catch on makes light bulb manufacturers much more likely to innovate. A mandate would provide a 100 percent market share to CFLs and would likely end many of the real incentives to come up with new products and ideas.