The Energy Independence And Security Act of 2007 created higher efficiency standards targeting today’s 40–100W incandescent and halogen general-service lamps.

Starting Jan. 1, 2012, 100W lamps will have to become 30 percent more efficient or be prohibited from manufacture and import; Jan. 1, 2013, targets 75W lamps; and Jan. 1, 2014, targets 40W and 60W lamps.

The result: The virtual elimination of targeted general-service incandescent and halogen lamps in these sizes, putting billions of sockets up for grabs.

So the bulb is being effectively banned, and we all soon will be exclusively using compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), right? Everybody knows this. It has been all over the news. Except that it’s not true. Consumers will continue to have choice. What are the options?

The act certainly appears to favor CFLs, which produce comparable light output in a choice of color tones and for a fraction of the energy. CFLs already are enjoying a fast adoption rate. Last year, nearly 300 million were sold, taking 20 percent of the bulb market, up from five percent in 2005. If you’re looking to maximize energy savings, choose CFLs.

Not everybody is a fan of these lamps, however. They don’t fit every fixture and aren’t suitable for many recessed fixtures. They require special models if you want them to dim, and dimming control manufacturers complain about dimming lamp performance. They don’t start instantly, and they contain mercury—a negligible amount according to the EPA, but enough to warrant recycling and special precautions in the event of breakage.

Incandescent diehards will be looking for the act’s exemptions, but if these loopholes get too popular, the affected lamp types likely will become targeted by regulation.

Another alternative that actually saves energy is using general-service lamps that already comply, such as Philips’ Halogená Energy Saver lamps, available to the U.S. consumer market through Home Depot. These screw-in halogen lamps are produced in 40W, 50W and 70W models to replace 60W, 75W and 100W incandescent lamps, respectively, for about 30 percent energy savings and nearly 10 percent less light output. They also dim easily. And speaking of dimming, control the lamps with a dimmer, and you’ll save 20 percent in energy. According to research conducted for the California Energy Commission, dimming effectively reduces input watts by an average 20 percent.

“Philips’ new energy-saving line of Halogená lamps complies with the energy-efficiency standard established for incandescent lamps in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007,” said Randy Moorhead, vice president, government affairs for Philips Electronics North America. In fact, he said, they and CFLs are the only lamps that do.

Indeed, it seems that Edison still has some fight left in him, and not just with halogens. General Electric Co., which has a significant stake in the incandescent business, is working on a high-efficiency incandescent (HEI) lamp, aiming for an approximate doubling of average incandescent efficacy to 30 lumens/watt by late 2009 or early 2010, as Michael Petras, vice president of GE Consumer & Industrial, told Associated Press in December 2007. He added the HEI would reach 60 lumens per watt in the second generation.

Jim Meyer, general manager of technology for GE Consumer & Industrial, more recently said the company “plans to introduce a variety of products that will meet and exceed the new standards. We will give consumers the variety of products they desire for various application needs, including LEDs, halogen and more-efficient, new-technology incandescent lamps.”

GE isn’t alone in its plans to raise the efficiency of the incandescent light bulb. Advanced Lighting Technologies’ (ADLT) recent acquisition of the lighting technology division of Schott AG, Auer Lighting, has enabled introduction of a new Nano Film Capsule technology for its own energy-efficient incandescent “hybrid” bulb that can at least double the efficacy of today’s incandescents, according to the company.

What about light-emitting diodes? A-lamp replacement LED lamps promised high energy savings but bombed in Department of Energy CALiPER product testing in 2007. Just because a product is LED doesn’t necessarily mean it’s energy-efficient. But we won’t be counting LEDs out. The act created a $10 million prize for an LED general-service lamp that can replace today’s 60W incandescent bulbs while meeting certain performance criteria. The technology is moving fast.

The act says efficiency must increase to at least 45 lumens per watt by 2020 at the latest, again putting billions of sockets up for grabs. But with continued advances in lighting technology—including potential future developments in OLED technology, raising possibilities of “lighting wallpaper”—contractors and their customers may continue to enjoy choice in home lighting far into the future.

DILOUIE, a lighting industry journalist, analyst and marketing consultant, is principal of ZING Communications. He can be reached at www.zinginc.com.