American Lighting Association

Issue No. 23, Oct. 2011

Bulb Choices

Learn more about:
Get Ready for New Regulations
Learn Which Bulbs to Buy 
Get Answers to Your Questions

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

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CHANGE A BULB: Which bulbs are being affected by new legislation? 

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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Incandescent Bulb
Standard Incandescent Bulb

Halogen Bulb
Halogen Incandescent Bulb

TIPS ON TYPES: How will I know which light bulbs to buy? 

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

New Bulb Labeling

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LED Lighting Video
Click here to learn more about new lighting options.
Labeling on Bulb
New labeling requires that the lumen output be printed directly on each bulb.

EXPERT ADVICE: Still confused? Ask a lighting professional. 

Are CFLs safe to use, considering they contain mercury?
                                                                         - Ann W.

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

Do you have questions about new light bulb requirements or the best way to light your home?
Click here to submit your questions for an ALA-trained lighting professional.

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Compact Fluorescent Light

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