Lights out for incandescent bulbs in Canada

Lynsey Kitching


Though it took years, the day has finally come, and past yesterday; the day when Canada aligns its lighting standards with the US and many other countries around the world in terms of lighting efficiency. The revisions are intended to ensure that a variety of viable, cost-effective lighting options of all types are available for use by Canadians in a wide range of applications, thus giving consumers more opportunity to shop responsibly at a lower cost.

Following an announcement to increase performance standards for lighting in 2007, the Government consulted with Canadians and made a decision in 2011 to allow consumers and industry more time to prepare for new lighting standards, but the buzzer has rung.

The revision will provide Canadians with more lighting options, specifically, a mercury-free halogen bulb that closely resembles and performs like a traditional incandescent bulb. New standards for 75- and 100-watt replacement bulbs apply to bulbs manufactured on or after Jan. 1, 2014, and to 40- and 60-watt replacement bulbs manufactured on or after Dec. 31, 2014. The standards set a minimum performance level for bulbs imported into Canada or sold interprovincially and will phase out inefficient incandescent bulbs that range from 40 watts to 100 watts.

Natural Resources Canada says, “Consumers will be able to choose from a variety of technologies, such as light emitting diodes (LEDs), compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and halogen bulbs. These products will be available in various shapes and sizes, light outputs (brightness) and light appearances (colour temperatures).”

Lighting accounts for about 10 percent of a home’s electricity use. Energy-efficient bulbs last as long as or longer than incandescent bulbs and use less electricity. While efficient light bulbs cost a bit more to buy, their energy savings pay for any incremental purchase cost and more over their lifetime. The expected reduction in household energy use will provide a cumulative net benefit to Canadian consumers of more than $750 million by 2025.

However, like in many instances there is always a but…Exemptions to the standards have been identified where an alternative for an efficient bulb is not available, including oven lights, decorative lamps (light bulbs), appliance bulbs, three-way fixtures, chandeliers and rough service/utility bulbs, as well as for agriculture and industrial applications where lighting is used to keep animals or equipment warm.

“Our government is taking meaningful action to allow greater choice for Canadian consumers,” said the Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “By aligning energy efficiency standards for light bulbs with the U.S., we are lowering costs and reducing the burden for Canadian businesses while providing consumers with the choice they need.”

By implementing these standards, Canada is joining 46 countries on initiatives to improve lighting efficiency. Canada is one of 18 countries that are implementing minimum energy performance standards for light bulbs, along with Australia, Mexico and the US.

Natural Resources Canada explains, “The change also aligns with Canada’s commitment to regulatory cooperation with the United States set out in the Regulatory Cooperation Council Joint Action Plan announced by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama in December 2011.”