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Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn speaks at a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday. ((CBC))

The federal government will ban the sale of inefficient light bulbs by 2012 in a move to reduce energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gases, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said Wednesday.

Lunn said the ban would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than six million tonnes a year, saving homeowners about $60 annually in electricity costs.

The plan to phase out most incandescent bulbs follows a similar proposal announced recently by Ontario.

"Today, we're making a commitment to set performance standards," Lunn told reporters in Ottawa.

"These new regulations will be in place by the end of this year and, within five years, all of those energy-inefficient lighting and bulbs, they're going to be gone."

More efficient lighting would include compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), which use about 75 per cent less electricity than older incandescent bulbs.

Details of the long-awaited environmental plan unexpectedly became public late Tuesday after a speech Environment Minister John Baird intended to deliver later this week was faxed by mistake to the Liberals.

Australia first to ban old bulbs

Many jurisdictions around the world have recently moved toward banning standard incandescent bulbs, which lose most of their energy as heat.

Australia blazed the way, announcing in February that it was going to prohibit the use of incandescent bulbs by 2010 in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It is estimated Australia's ban will result in a 800,000-tonne reduction in the emissions within five years.

Within Canada, Ontario was not the first jurisdiction to announce plans to ban incandescent bulbs. Nunavut had earlier said it would introduce legislation in May aimed atintroducing a ban over the following three years.

Home Depot, the largest retailer of light bulbs in the country, says its sales of more efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs grew more than 350 per cent between 2004 and 2006.

The retailer said Wednesday that it wouldstop selling incandescent bulbs by 2011.

With files from the Canadian Press