New minimum energy light standards

Recently I have had a number of enquiries pertaining to light bulbs - this is not surprising given changes to Canada’s national lighting standards that in turn will impact some of the light bulbs that will be available for sale. In researching this issue, NRCan first announced the introduction of proposed national standards for lighting efficiency back in 1997, these new standards were amended in November of 2011 with a further amendment announced last week.

What do the new lighting standards propose? The new standards establish energy efficiency levels for light bulbs sold in Canada that also calls for energy inefficient incandescent bulbs in certain wattages to be phased out. Specifically the new standards will apply for bulbs in the 75- and 100-watt range after January 1, 2014, and bulbs in the 40-60 watt range on or after December 31, 2014. Once the new standards are in place consumers will have more energy efficient lighting choices that include light emitting diodes (LEDs), compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and with the most recent amendment incandescent halogen bulbs. It should also be noted that not all light bulbs currently on the market will be affected by these changes- for example decorative lamps and related light bulbs, appliance bulbs, three-way fixtures, chandeliers, rough service/utility bulbs, oven lamps as well as specialty bulbs for agriculture and industrial applications will all be exempt from these new regulations.

Why introduce these light bulb energy efficiency standards? There are a number of reasons for these changes. Currently lighting (on average) accounts for roughly 10% of household energy use. By using more energy efficient light bulbs nationally the cumulative energy savings are estimated at more than $750 million by 2025 with corresponding greenhouse gas emission reductions by up to 7.5 mega-tonnes over the same time frame. These new regulations also parallel the same standards being introduced in the United States. Having the same lighting standards across North America will also benefit those in the lighting and electrical sectors including manufacturers, wholesalers and importers. Canada is one of 18 countries currently in the process of implementing minimum standards in light bulb energy efficiency.

Last week’s amendment to include energy efficient incandescent halogen lighting options is an important one for those that appreciate the appearance of traditional incandescent lighting in a more energy saving format. While some citizens have expressed support for the high energy efficiency and long life of compact fluorescent lights (CFL), others have expressed concerns over a dislike for the style of lighting and the fact that CFL bulbs contain a small amount of mercury content. According to Health Canada the mercury quantity in these classes of bulbs is roughly enough to cover the tip of a ball point pen. Although no special handling is required in the use of these bulbs in the event a CFL bulb breaks Health Canada does have recommendations on best practices for clean up. Some of the recommendations include allowing the room to ventilate for 15 minutes prior to entry, and to use gloves when picking up the glass and sticky tape for loose pieces. Using a vacuum or broom is not recommended as this can spread the dust to other areas of your home. For more information on the use and disposal of CFL bulbs the Health Canada website has some helpful information.

The intent of this week’s report is to help eliminate confusion on Canada’s minimum energy efficiency light standards given many recent questions on this topic. If you have further questions on this or any topic please do not hesitate to contact my office at 1-800-665-8711 or via email at [email protected].

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola and the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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