The jury is still out on which light bulb is the best, but you can be sure that incandescent bulbs are on their way out. Beginning in 2012 (2011 in CA), incandescent bulbs will be phased out. Each year, another wattage will be eliminated (starting with the 100 watt bulb), making them all extinct by 2014. So what will take its place? The push for CFL (compact fluorescent light) and LED (light emitting diode) bulbs are leading the way.
Fans of the CFL argue that they can be used in most household fixtures, lasts 10 times longer, and use approximately 75% less energy than an incandescent bulb. However, CFLs take a while to reach their full brightness and consumers complain that the light quality is less than satisfactory. Myself included. Today's CFLs do not "read" color well making our rooms, and each other, look washed out. And, let's not forget that trace of mercury that requires us to handle them with care. Technology is improving. We are starting to see "soft white", "cool white", and "daylight" varieties on the market that mimic the light quality of incandescent bulbs.
LEDs are long-lasting and low-wattage, so although they will cost more initially, they will save you money overall. LED bulbs are also versatile and illuminate artwork and work spaces well. These bulbs are mercury-free, making them the greenest choice. But, beware of bulbs that throw off a blue cast.
The good news is that by the time incandescent bulbs are completely phased out, technology will (hopefully) have addressed all of these issues. Hybrid bulbs are now being produced that combine the best of CFLs and halogen (the closest light we have to daylight right now, but runs too hot for most indoor use) like the GE Reveal hybrid bulb. I'm a big fan of the original Reveal bulb, so let's hope this one looks as good.
Image via denverlightbulbs.com