General Service Lamps


About half of all light bulbs sold in the U.S. are the familiar pear-shaped “A-type” bulbs. Other general service lamps (GSLs) include reflector bulbs used in recessed or track lighting, decorative candle-shaped bulbs, and globe-shaped bulbs used in bathroom vanity lighting. 

Before the first federal standards took effect in 2012, A-type bulbs usually came in 40, 60, 75, or 100-watt incandescent versions. After the 2012 federal standards, most incandescent A-type bulbs were replaced by slightly more efficient halogen bulbs, and much more efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Today, most GSLs sold use light-emitting diode (LED) technology. LED bulbs use less energy and last longer than incandescent, halogen, or CFL light bulbs.


The current standards for GSLs, referred to as the “backstop” standard, took effect on July 25, 2022, requiring the minimum efficacy of all GSLs to be at least 45 lumens per watt (lpw). The current standards effectively require that all GSLs be either CFLs or LEDs, although virtually all current sales are LEDs. In 2024, DOE finalized amended standards for GSLs with compliance required starting July 25, 2028. The new standards will require a minimum efficacy of about 125 lpw for the most common light bulbs, which can be met by improved LEDs. Under the new standards, a common “60-watt equivalent” bulb will need to use no more than 6.5 watts.


Incandescent light bulbs have been around for more than a century. Over time, consumers became accustomed to buying bulbs based on their power rating (40, 60, 75, or 100 watts) as a proxy for the brightness of the bulb. Brightness (perceived power of light) is actually measured in lumens, and the DOE standards specify a minimum lumen output per watt of input power. LEDs can produce the same  lumens as traditional incandescent bulbs using far less power.

Savings through what year?: 2049
Energy saved (quads): .85
CO2 savings (million metric tons): 52
Net present value savings ($billion) 3% discount rate: 9.1
Net present value savings ($billion) 7% discount rate: 4.4

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Standards in the News


Federal Date States
Potential Effective Date of Updated Standard 2025
Updated DOE Standard Due 2022
1st Federal Standard Effective 2020
1st Federal Standard Adopted (DOE) 2016
Test Procedure - Last Revised - Active Mode 2012
Initial Federal Legislation Enacted 2007

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