Retailer IKEA switching entirely to energy-efficient bulbs

Phase out starts in August 2010

Home furnishings company IKEA says it will stop selling all incandescent light bulbs in its U.S. stores as of Aug. 1, 2010. Instead, it will focus on selling stuff that is deemed energy efficient, including compact fluorescent lighting (CFL), halogen and LED. Its goal is to make sure its stores are incandescent-free by Jan. 1, 2011.

This is perhaps the boldest indicator yet that both manufacturers and retailers are getting serious about helping consumers make the switch prior to federal legislation that calls for the phase out of incandescent bulbs in 2012. IKEA cites stats from the U.S. government suggesting that if every U.S. household replaced just one incandescent bulb with a CFL bulb, it would save enough electricity to light 3 million homes for one year. Think about that.

IKEA says that CFLs are the most popular replacement, still, for traditional bulbs. But the company is placing a lot of emphasis on halogen, and it will come out with a halogen bulb that fits in a traditional light socket sometime. IKEA also sells solar-powered lamps under the Sunnan brand name.

The IKEA announcement begs two questions:

First, what is IKEA doing itself to get stop using less-energy-efficient lighting in its stores and other facilities? Its latest corporate sustainability report actually shows its doing plenty, not just in energy efficiency initiatives but also in planning to use solar energy for at least 150 stores.

The other question I have is: What do we do with all those incandescent bulbs? And the fixtures, where necessary?

IKEA has a recycling program in place, of course. But I also wanted to point out another program that could be a sign of things to come. Dialight, which is an LED technology player, has teamed up with Veolia Environmental Services, to offer recycling services for organizations that are replacing street lights and commercial-grade fixtures with Dialight's LED technology. Here's the rationale from Dialight CEO Roy Burton: "By adding this recycling option, we're able to enhance the environmental benefits of changing over to LEDs and relieve our customers of the burden in figuring out how they're going to deal with the discarded fixtures."