Frequently asked questions

Canada's standard for efficient light bulbs

What light bulbs are available for Canadians to buy?

Are there exclusions where incandescent lighting products are allowed for sale?

What is the difference between standard incandescent bulbs and utility bulbs and how do the standards affect them?

I’ve heard energy efficient light bulbs are unsafe. Is this true?

I’ve heard efficient light bulbs are bad for the environment because they contain mercury. Is this true?

How do Canada’s lighting standards compare to the United States?

How do Canada’s lighting standards benefit Canadians?

How do Canada’s lighting standards benefit business and industry?

What light bulbs are available for Canadians to buy?

Consumers are able to choose from a variety of light bulbs such as incandescent halogen, LED, and fluorescent in various shapes and sizes, light outputs (brightness) and light appearances (colour temperatures).

For more information about light bulb options visit http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/products/whats-new/13583 and http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/products/categories/lighting/bulbs/13918

Are there exclusions where incandescent lighting products will still be allowed for sale?

There are many exclusions from the standards where an efficient alternative is not available; including oven lights, decorative lamps (light bulbs), appliance bulbs, 3-way fixtures, chandeliers and rough service/utility bulbs. For a complete list of exclusions visit our Website.

What is the difference between standard incandescent bulbs and utility bulbs and how do the standards affect them?

A standard incandescent bulb is the traditional, rounded light bulb we have been using in our homes for years for all kinds of uses. A utility bulb, also known as a rough service bulb, is similar in appearance, but has been built more robustly to be able to withstand jarring or vibrations that would be likely to damage a conventional lamp. Furthermore, due to its rugged design, a utility bulb tends to be significantly less efficient than conventional bulbs, providing a great deal less light for the same amount of power consumption. It is designed for use in garages, barns, workplaces and other sites where a bulb might be especially prone to rough handling or breakage.

Utility bulbs do not currently have a high efficiency option and are excluded from the minimum performance standards.

I’ve heard energy efficient light bulbs are unsafe. Is this true?

As with any electrical product sold in Canada, all bulbs must meet specific requirements for electrical safety, fire and shock hazard. Any bulb that carries the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Underwriters Laboratory (UL) safety certification mark on its package or on the bulb itself has passed these tests.

A study conducted by Health Canada concluded that CFLs do not pose a health hazard to the general population from either emissions of ultraviolet radiation or electric and magnetic fields resulting from use.

For more information about health visit the Health Canada website.

I’ve heard efficient light bulbs are bad for the environment because they contain mercury. Is this true?

Halogen and LED light bulbs meet Canada’s lighting standards and are mercury-free. CFLs do have a small amount of mercury—less than would fit on the tip of a pen. However, efficient bulbs use less electricity than traditional bulbs. By decreasing electricity powered from fossil fuels, efficient lighting also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and the mercury levels from power production.

Due to their mercury content as well as their electronic components, CFL lamps should be properly disposed of.  Whenever possible, they should be recycled through available channels.

For more information about mercury and the environment visit the Environment Canada website.

How do Canada’s lighting standards compare to the United States?

Canada’s lighting standards are aligned with those in the United States. The United States started implementing their standards in 2012, and, as of the end of 2014 both countries have had the same standards in effect.

How do Canada’s lighting standards benefit Canadians?

Lighting accounts for approximately 11 percent of a home’s electricity use, so replacing old incandescent bulbs with new efficient bulbs can make a big difference. Energy efficient bulbs last as long, or longer, and use less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs. Improving energy efficiency reduces the amount of energy used and thus reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which benefits all Canadians.

How do Canada’s lighting standards benefit business and industry?

Energy efficient lighting standards eliminate the least efficient products on the market and help put Canada on par with the rest of North America. This helps lighting retailers and manufacturers deliver and promote the same products on both sides of the border. This also increases the supply of efficient lighting products, which decreases the cost for everyone.