Fluorescent lighting is inexpensive to run, but the light from standard tubes is cold and industrial. Replace them with tubes labeled "warm" or "full spectrum," which produce light that is more suitable for a home. Adding a translucent cover diffuses the light and reduces the glare.
Replacing an incandescent fixture with a fluorescent one is relatively easy. If your goal is simply to save energy costs, simply install a fluorescent bulb in an incandescent fixture.
An existing fluorescent light might have cable running directly into it with no electrical junction box. That's OK -- usually the fixture's housing is considered adequate for protecting spliced wires.
Because some fluorescent fixtures are heavy and bulky, enlist a helper when removing or installing one.
About 1 hour to remove a fixture and install a new fluorescent
Screwdriver, drill, strippers, side cutters, voltage tester, lineman's pliers, ladder
Stripping and splicing wires, driving screws
Spread a drop cloth on the floor beneath the light; set up a stable ladder
New fluorescent fixture, wire nuts, screws, electrician's tape
Remove the screws holding the fixture in place -- usually there are several driven into ceiling joists. Support the fixture as it comes loose and guide the wires out through the hole. Note the locations of the ceiling joists. Mark the new fixture to line up screws with joists.
To replace a fluorescent fixture in a suspended ceiling, shut off power to the circuit. Remove the ceiling panels around the fixture. Remove the diffuser, disconnect the wires, unscrew the locknut, and pull out the cable. With a helper lift the old fixture out and set the new fixture in place in the ceiling frame.