One of the benefits of switching to energy efficient lighting that I haven't really thought about is that there is the possibility of the US being able to decommission some of its power plants. Once incandescent light bulbs have been banned and compact fluorescent light bulbs
and LED light bulbs
have taken their place, the energy requirement for the country will be significantly reduced.
Compact fluorescent light bulb production in China (accounting for 85% of the world's production of CFLs) rose from 750 million CFLs produced in 2001 to three billion produced in 2007. A good portion of those went to the US as sales here increased from 21 million CFLs in 2000 to 397 million in 2007. We're well on our way to conserving tons of energy, as it is estimated that out of the 4.7 million or so billion light sockets in the US, nearly one billion now hold compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Some countries around the world are being even more proactive about reducing their energy consumption. Australia announced in 2007 that the sale of incandescents would be phased out by 2010, to be replaced by compact fluorescents. Following suit, Canada announced a 2012 phaseout of incandescents. The European Union was a bit slower to join the revolution, creating plans in 2009 for an eventual phaseout of incandescents.
One country had more urgent reasoning for their switch to compact fluorescents; Brazil experienced a nationwide shortage of electricity from 2000 to 2002. Their response was a comprehensive plan to replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent counterparts. To date they've replaced an estimated half of all their incandescent light bulbs with CFLs.
This is good news for the entire world. CFL opponents will continue to cite the mercury content of compact fluorescent light bulbs, but it has already been shown that the amount is negligible and simple to dispose of and recycle. We may yet be able to dismantle some coal power plants and thereby reduce our polluting emissions even further.