Are the lights going out in China? Well, not quite—but they’re definitely getting more energy efficient

As of October 1, 2012—less than a year from now—China will ban imports and sales of 100-watt-and-higher incandescent bulbs. 60-watt-and-higher bulbs will be restricted as of October, 2016, and 15-watt-and-higher will go by the wayside in 2016.

China is the world’s largest producer of both energy-efficient and incandescent bulbs, so its move could have a “significant impact” on reducing the use of incandescents world-wide, according to the environmental protection department of China’s National Development and Reform Commission.

Of course, China’s not alone in working to eliminate the use of incandescent bulbs. The US is planning to phase out the manufacture and sale of conventional lightbulbs in 2012, as is the European Union.

Why the move to eliminate Thomas Edison’s most popular invention?

Well, compact fluorescent lightbulbs use a full 75% less energy than conventional bulbs. According to Energy Star, the US could eliminate greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 800,000 cars if every household simply replaced one incandescent bulb with a CFL bulb.

CFLs do have drawbacks, most significantly their higher up-front cost, delay in lighting up, and the potential for mercury exposure. However, CFLs last 10 times longer than incandescents, paying for themselves within six months. And with appropriate disposal, mercury exposure is a minimal concern.

What do you think? Do you use incandescents or CFLs in your restaurant? (If you’re thinking about making the switch, check out this small business lighting incentive from the Ontario Power Authority.)

Image credit: Kyle May