We have been paying close attention to the 2nd phase of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 which comes in effect this January 1, 2014.
The first phase of the act brought the demise of the standard 100w incandescent lamp (“bulbs” for those of you clinging to the 19th Century’s terms) in 2012. This is why you have been trouble finding them in your local hardware store. “What?!?! No more 100 watt bulbs?” you say… well maybe you’d better take a seat, preferably a soft one… come January 1, 2014, both the 60 watt and 40 watt regular old incandescent lamps that you know and love, will be phased out of production. They will be illegal to produce or import into the USA.
While I think this is somewhat of a misguided law, fear not, there are plenty of lamps on the market from which to choose that do as good, if not better of a job, creating light as those old lamps.
Before I start enumerating the potential replacements to the incandescent 40 & 60 W lamps, please take a deep breath and let me tell you that there are a TON of lamps that are exempt from this legislation. To begin with, all candelabra lamps are not affected. Additionally, tubular lamps are not affected. Reflector lamps (silver-tip) are not affected. Three-way lamps are not affected, as are marine lamps, vibration resistant lamps, rough service lamps… whew!
For all instances where you can’t use a candelabra lamp, a tubular lamp, or a silver tip lamp and you must use an incandescent lamp, there are great halogen incandescent lamps that look as well as the old lamps and are more efficient in energy use per lumen than the old standard incandescent lamps.
I can think of only a small handful of instances where I would be really disappointed if I couldn’t find an incandescent medium-base lamp. You could skirt the issue by using an old 25 W lamp or you could use one of the many more efficient halogen lamps that look and feel like the old incandescent lamps. The halogen lamps are incandescent lamps, by the way, they just perform with greater efficiency as a result of the halogen gas in the lamp enclosure. Halogen lamps have the same full range dimming characteristics as do old incandescent lamps. Halogen lamps are nearly as simple a piece of technology as are plain old incandescent lamps (a significant environmental advantage when you start looking into the manufacturing burden side of the sustainability equation, by the by). Halogen lamps have fabulous color rendition (full 100 CRI, same as the old incandescent lamps).
If you are still unsatisfied with existing regular incandescent and new halogen options, you could use one of the many, many compact fluorescent lamps on the market or any of the many emerging LED lamps as well.
I intentionally skirted a big discussion of the environmental merits of these various lighting technologies. That’s a story for another day.