Ever heard of "moving"? I don't own two houses, I've lived two different places in the past decade.
but the normal $2-5 per bulbs are garbage. I have to replace at least one every 6 months out of aprox 15 bulbs installed in my apt.
[...]I like the energy savings, and lower heat, but old ass bulbs are far more reliable.
FIrst, I buy the Home Depot discount bulk packs, in the 4 bulbs for $10 range. So yeah, comparing apples to apples here
Second, you have to replace ONE out of fifteen, every six months? Do you remember having incandescents at all? You have to replace all of them every six months (except maybe that one lonely attic light that you only use a total of 10 hours of per year), and the highest use ones, you could expect to replace every 2-3 months. People actually used to keep a six-pack of replacement bulbs around to deal with one or three dying at the worst possible time. Today? do people actually keep spare CFLs around? I don't, seems like a waste of space for how often I need one.
We apparently don't define "reliable" the same way.
The balast generally goes and then the bulb is toast. Sometimes they go grey first in the tube, but most are heavily yellowed from heat damage.
Ballasts go because of poor quality power, nothing more and nothing less (or putting a non-dimmable one on a dimmer circuit - same thing, just self-inflicted poor power quality). As for heat damage, Yes Virginia, some fixtures designed for burn-to-the-touch incandescents don't make suitable fixtures for CFLs. Specifically, if it has a heat shield on the base and a completely enclosing shade, yeah, you'll cook your CFLs nicely.