OCTOBER 2011: Bulb Basics

Oct 30th 2015 Staff

Issue No.23, Oct 2011

Beginning in 2012, new light bulb efficiency standards will affect which bulbs are available in stores. Here's what you need to know.

Expert Advice

Are CFLs safe to use, considering they contain mercury?

According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) in the U.S. contain an average of 4 miligrams or less of mercury. For comparison, an old fashioned mercury thermometer contains 125 times more mercury than one CFL. For that matter, there is more mercury in one bite of albacore tuna than in one CFL. While there is no evidence that exposure to the mercury in a broken bulb presents a health risk, information for safely cleaning up when a CFL breaks is available from the EPA at

Tips on Types

By January 2012, all new medium screw-base bulbs will have more comprehensive labeling to help consumers understand and compare each type of light bulb. Information on new bulb labels includes: lumens (brightness), estimated yearly cost, life expectancy, light appearance and energy used. For more detailed information, go to

Change a Bulb

Contrary to what many people think, standard incandescent bulbs are not being banned, they are simply going to be more efficient. The bulbs most commonly used by consumers today will not meet the new requirements. Over the next two years, the new requirements will affect 100-watt, 75-watt, 60-watt and 40-watt medium screw-base incandescent light bulbs. These bulbs will be replaced with more efficient halogen bulbs, which are a type of incandescent. Timeline for implementing new standards for incandescent bulbs in the United States:

  • Jan. 1, 2012: 100 Watt
  • Jan. 1, 2013: 75 Watt
  • Jan. 1, 2014: 60 Watt & 40 Watt

To read more about U.S. light bulb requirements, click here.

For information about Canadian light bulb standards, click here.

Additional resources: and

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