Most commercial buildings in Australia have moved away from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents, which are much more energy efficient and last longer. The limitations of CFLs are slow warm up time, early failure if frequently switched, and high cost for dimmable CFLs. Additionally some speciality bulbs, such as chandelier bulbs, don’t have readily available CFL equivalents. But as CFLs are four or five times more efficient than incandescent in our energy audits we always try to build a strong case for switching to CFLs.
But incandescent may be getting a second life. Australia enacted the first legislation banning sales of low efficiency lamps (incandescent) and the US followed. With a much larger market than ours this has sparked some innovation in the design of incandescent lamps.
Philips now has a incandescent that is 30% more efficient than a standard incandescent. Osram is shortly coming out with one 25% more efficient.
These sort of efficiency gains still leave CFLs as clearly the superior option, but as there is more research undertaken the incandescent could get even better yet.
If incandescent efficiency can be improved by 20% a year, it will take six or seven years to catch up with where CFLs are now. Which is a long time, unless there is an innovation that provides a quantum improvement in efficiency.
LED lights on the other hand are now getting close to CFL efficiency.
Its great to see all this lighting innovation happening, and hopefully we will soon see screw in and plug in bulbs that are more efficient than CFLs