Part of that bill required all light bulbs to use 30 percent less electricity than standard incandescent bulbs, resulting in a phasing out of these bulbs by watts, starting with 100-watt bulbs in 2012 and ending with 40-watt bulbs in 2014. In 2020, Tier 2 standards will be in effect, requiring all bulbs to be at least 70 percent more efficient.
Our choices are now high efficiency incandescent bulbs (such as Halogen, which won't meet the Tier 2 standard) or the more energy efficient compact florescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.
Halogen bulbs produce a true incandescent light, but cost twice as much as an incandescent bulb, have a shorter lifespan (they burn hotter, which can also make them a safety concern) and emit slightly fewer lumens. They use 30 percent fewer watts.
CFLs use 70 percent fewer watts, last approximately 10 times as long and produce about the same amount of lumens, but cost more than twice as much. When the CFL technology hit the market, a lot of people had concerns about noise, light quality, mercury and appearance, but improvements were made and many stores now recycle them for free.
LEDs are more than 80 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs, produce the same or slightly more lumens and last 25 times as long. They cost more, but cost is decreasing rapidly, and they pay for themselves in energy savings. They emit very little heat and are great for locations where bulbs are hard to change.
For more information on types of bulbs and direct comparisons, check out this FAQ.
How much difference will a change make for you? Check out this easy savings calculator.
If every household in America switched all incandescent bulbs to CFL or LED, each would save around $100 a year in electricity. (Who couldn't use an extra $100?) It also would save $13.7 billion in energy costs and would be the equivalent of taking almost 15 million cars off the road or shutting down 19 coal power plants.