On December 16th, Congress passed a new spending bill that contained a provision that would block the Department of Energy (DOE) from enforcing new energy-efficient standards for certain types of light bulbs. As you might recall, the "incandescent bulb phase-out" stems from the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007). A section of this Act has adopted the title of "Incandescent ban" over the last few years, except it is not really a ban at all. It simply states that certain classes of lamps will be phased-out to meet new energy efficiency standards mandated by law. We have outlined the new standards in our Learning Section, if you need a refresher.
The passing of this bill has caused a lot of confusion regarding the phase-out. The truth is, the 100 watt incandescent will still begin it's scheduled phase-out starting January 2012. The EISA of 2007 efficiency standards have not been repealed and are still the law. The only effect that the bill has on the DOE is that they do not have funding to enforce the law until October 2012.
Since EISA was signed into law in 2007, lighting manufacturers have invested heavily in R&D and production line modifications to develop products that will meet the new efficiency standards come January.
A few have also created a new type of product called a "halogen incandescent" bulb. It looks and provides almost the same type of light as a typical incandescent but meets the new standards. You can learn all about these new bulbs in this video. As you will see, it is the closest match to a traditional incandescent, followed by the compact fluorescent and the LED bulb. The passing of the spending bill two weeks prior to the start date of the phase-out is not going to stop reputable lighting manufacturers from sticking with their original plan.
If you are thinking about stocking up on these 100 watt bulbs now, you will still be able to purchase from many retailers after January. But keep in mind, this will only be until the existing supply is sold-out.
Here's something else you should know for 2012:
With new incandescent replacements out there now, the way you shop for a bulb is changing. To make this task easier for the consumer, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) now requires manufacturers to include the new "Lighting Facts" label on their packaging. Instead of referring to the wattage, or energy usage (as the main product specification), lumens is now becoming the term to know. It refers to the light output and the higher the number, the brighter the bulb. Another helpful addition to the bulb packaging in the Correlated Color Temperature (CCT), this measure the light color. The numbers are taken from the Kelvin Scale and can range from 2700K (Warm White) all the way to 6500K (Daylight). The warmer end of the scale is closest to incandescent light.
The "Lighting Facts" label will become a very helpful tool as consumers start to explore replacement options. Currently, options include the Halogen Incandescent (available in a variety of wattages), CFLs (have really come along way over the last few years) and LEDs (expected to account for more than half of the lighting market by 2020).