Ontario will ban the sale of inefficient incandescentlight bulbs by 2012, a move that follows in the footsteps of Australia, the province said Wednesday.

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The government estimates that replacing the 87 million incandescent bulbs in use across Ontario with more efficient bulbs would save six million megawatt hours every year. ((Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press))

The government estimates that replacing the 87 million incandescent bulbs in use across Ontario with more efficient bulbs would save six million megawatt hours every year — enough to power 600,000 homes.

Changing to more efficient bulbs is also the equivalent —in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions — of taking 250,000 cars off the road, said Ontario Environment Minister Laurel Broten, who announced the move along with Energy Minister Dwight Duncan on Wednesday morning.

"It's lights out for old, inefficient bulbs in Ontario," Duncan said in a statement.

The provincial government is developing new performance standards for lamps and drafting regulations for the sale of bulbs it considers inefficient, the ministers said.

The ban, part of a wider energy conservation program, would allow for exceptions, such as the use of incandescent bulbs in fields like medicine.

Also, if manufacturers develop energy-efficient incandescent bulbs, those would be allowed.

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

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

Australia blazed the way, announcing in February that it was going toprohibit 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 emissions within five years.

Ontario is not the first Canadian jurisdiction to announce plans to ban incandescent bulbs. Nunavut aims to take that honour by prohibiting the sale and purchase ofincandescent bulbs over the next three years, if legislation is passed in May.

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia's government warned in February that it plans to ban the bulbs within four to five years.