California is ordering 100-watt incandescent light bulbs off store shelves starting Jan. 1 in an energy-saving move. For now at the Home Depot in Redding, Calif., you can still find incandescents among the aisles. Compact fluorescent (CFL), halogen and light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs -- the energy-efficient choices -- are most common, but some incandescent light bulbs still linger.
On Jan. 1, the 100-watt incandescent light bulb will start to be phased out in California. By the beginning of 2012, they are expected to be completely gone from store shelves. Three years ago, the federal Energy Independence and Security Act was enacted to phase out the incandescent light bulb by 2014. Australia, Ireland and Cuba have banned the bulb while many other countries are phasing them out.
California is starting its phase-out a year early because of state regulations to reduce energy consumption. Specialty lights that use less than 40 watts and more than 150 watts such as appliance lamps and three-way bulbs will not initially be banned, but will later be required to use less energy.
With compact fluorescent light bulbs now dominating the energy efficient home light bulb market, the main concern is mercury. Because of the mercury content, fluorescent lights must be recycled. The mercury content in a single CFL is negligible, but if they are not recycled then millions and billions of them in landfills would absolutely be dangerous.
As the 100-watt incandescent bulb fades, the energy-efficient 72-watt bulb will be the highest replacement with a range of 1,490-2,600 lumens and a minimum life of 1,000 hours.
Companies such as Philips have manufactured incandescent bulbs with 30 percent improved energy efficiency mandated by law and will remain on the market during the phase out, as the goal of the legislation is not to simply remove all incandescents, but to force manufacturers to produce more efficient versions.