General Service Lamps


General service incandescent lamps are the familiar pear-shaped light bulbs that traditionally came in 40, 60, 75, and 100 watt versions. Advanced incandescents are slightly more efficient and have improved fill gasses (such as halogen) or other improvements to produce the same amount of light as their higher-wattage cousins. More efficient options include compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).


The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 raised standards for common light bulbs requiring them to use about 25-30% less energy than the traditional incandescent light bulbs. The efficiency standards, which were phased in between 2012 and 2014, set the maximum wattage for light bulbs according to their brightness or lumens. See table below for the maximum wattages.

EISA 2007 Prescribed Standard for General Service Incandescent Lamps

Rated Lumen Ranges Maximum Rated Wattages Minimum Rated Lifetime (hrs) Effective Date
1490-2600 72 1000 hours January 1, 2012
1050-1489 53 1000 hours January 1, 2013
750-1049 43 1000 hours January 1, 2014
310-749 29 1000 hours January 1, 2014

The efficiency standards, which are technology neutral, are being met by advanced incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light emitting diodes (LEDs), all of which are more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs. In addition, CFLs and LEDs last between 8 and 25 times longer than incandescents. California set similar standards in 2008 with a phased-in implementation which began in January 2011, one year before the federal standards. For more information on the federal standards from EISA, click here.

DOE initiated a new rulemaking for general service lamps in 2014 with a final rule expected in 2017. General service lamps include general service incandescent lamps as well as compact fluorescent lamps, general service light-emitting diode (LED or OLED) lamps, and "any other lamps that the Secretary determines are used to satisfy lighting applications tradtionally served by general service incandescent lamps" (DOE Fact Sheet - see link below).


The conventional (and incorrect) use of 'watts' as a measure of brightness is losing steam as more efficient lighting technologies are developed that require fewer watts (or energy) to achieve higher light outputs. The more accurate term for light output or brightness is lumens. Federal Trade Commission lighting labels include both lumens and watts, as well as information about light appearance and yearly energy costs.

Projected Savings

General service incandescent lamp standards (published in 2007)
Savings through what year?:
Energy saved (quads):
CO2 savings (million metric tons):
Net present value savings ($billion) 3% discount rate:
Net present value savings ($billion) 7% discount rate:


Federal Date States
Potential Effective Date of Updated Standard 2025
Updated DOE Standard Due 2022
2012 NV Standard Effective *
1st Federal Standard Effective 2012
Test Procedure - Last Revised - Active Mode 2012
2011 CA Standard Effective
2008 CA Standard Adopted
EISA Initial Federal Legislation Enacted 2007
2007 NV Standard Adopted
1st Federal Standard Adopted (Congress) 2007
2006 CA Standard Effective
2004 CA Standard Adopted
EPACT Initial Federal Legislation Enacted 1992

* State standard never went into effect due to preemption by federal standard.

Timeline reflects state standards from 2001 to present; federal standards from inception to present.