Beginning early next year, a new standard from the United States Department of Energy goes into effect. It will change the most common of household items: the lightbulb.

We all have several of them in our homes but did you ever wonder just how much energy they use? The traditional incandescent bulb expels a lot of heat thus ballooning that utility bill each month. What can be done? Thanks to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, passed by Congress and signed by then-president George W. Bush, strict new guidelines will begin January 1st, 2012. There won’t be much difference to you the consumer – the current “regular” bulbs sold in stores will be replaced with more energy efficient units.

The new lighting standard will require that all bulbs sold in the country will use anywhere from 25 to 80 percent less power than the preexisting ones. Some of the new bulbs are already on store shelves and meet the requirement. These include the new energy friendly incandescent ones, the CFL’s and LEDs.

Dr. Kathleen Hogan with the U.S. Department of Energy says your wallet will definitely appreciate the changeover. Hogan explains “traditional bulbs use about 90 percent heat and that’s why those energy costs are so expensive. The new ones concentrate more on the purpose which is light.”

They will first begin with 100 watt bulbs in 2012 and move on to 75 watts in 2013. In 2014, they will fizzle out the old 40 and 60 watt bulbs. By the year 2015 when all is said and done, about $6-billion-dollars will be saved nationwide.

The newer bulbs provide a wide range of choices in color and brightness, and many of them will last much longer than traditional light bulbs. The lighting standards, which phase in from 2012-2014, do not ban incandescent or any specific bulb type; they say that bulbs need to use about 25% less energy.

Dr. Hogan says the average per year savings for a homeowner is about $50 when you replace 15 traditional incandescent bulbs in your home.