Some governments around the world have passed measures to improve the energy efficiency of light bulbs used in homes and businesses. In the United States, this effectively bans current incandescent light bulbs for general lighting. The aim is to encourage the use and technological development of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives, such as compact fluorescent lamp (CFLs) and LED lamps. Manufacturers in the United States, at least, will still be free to produce future versions of incandescent bulbs if they are more energy efficient.
Brazil and Venezuela started to phase out incandescent bulbs in 2005 and the European Union, Switzerland, and Australia started to phase them out in 2009.
Likewise, other nations are implementing new energy standards or have scheduled phase-outs: Argentina, Russia, and Canada in 2012 and the United States and Malaysia in 2014.
In the United States, there has been widespread consumer misunderstanding of what the legislation entails.
In general, resistance to phasing out incandescent light bulbs centers on the public's preference for the quality of light produced from incandescents. Some tout the economic theory of free markets as being preferable to regulation, while others emphasize that only with aggressive government intervention will energy efficiency improve.There are also environmental concerns about mercury contamination with CFLs. However, recycling of CFLs greatly reduces releases, and at least where power is derived from coal there is lower mercury release even if the bulbs end up in landfills. Formerly, instant availability of light was an issue for CFLs, but newer CFLs are available with an Instant On feature, as well as a wide variety of correlated color temperatures. CFLs and LEDs labeled for dimmer control are also becoming available, although typically at higher cost.