Lights Out

On March 1, the Republic of Ireland becomes the first democratic country in the world to ban the traditional incandescent lightbulb. Stores there will no longer carry the century-old technology, which converts only between 5 and 10 percent of electricity into light, losing the rest as radiant heat. (Compare this with the 40 percent efficiency of compact fluorescent bulbs.) In its place, hardware stores will stock shelves with compact fluorescents, halogens and LEDs.

The U.S. is making the switch too, albeit more slowly. By 2014, most light- bulbs will be 30 percent more efficient than those currently available. “Incandescents aren’t going away,” says Peter Banwell of the Environmental Protection Agency, “but they will have a minimum efficiency level they’ll need to meet.”

Read more of Popular Science’s predictions for 2009.