European Union Turns Off Incandescent Bulbs

Traditional light bulbs are being phased out in the 27 countries of the European Union.

The bulb has not changed much since it was first perfected by Thomas Edison, but it is considered an energy guzzler. Europe will replace the bulbs as part of its plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by the year 2020.

Stores will be able to sell off their remaining stocks. However, starting Tuesday, the manufacture and import of the standard 100 watt and the frosted light bulb, which is deemed the most wasteful, will be banned.

And over the next three years, all incandescent bulbs, which create more heat than light, will be phased out completely. A similar ban is set to begin in the United States in 2012.

Under the new European law, incandescent bulbs will be replaced by more efficient lighting systems like fluorescent, halogen or LED lamps, which can save up to 80 percent of the energy used by the old bulbs.

The new lights will cost more but last longer, saving consumers money in the long run says Ferran Tarradellas, energy spokesman for the EU.

"The equivalent of energy that we can save with this measure, it's equivalent to the electricity consumption of Romania," Tarradellas says. "It could bring back to Europe's economy around five billion euros per year."

Still, the measure is not being taken lightly by everyone.

Consumers in some countries, like Germany, are said to be stockpiling Thomas Edison's old-style bulbs for cost reasons, or even out of nostalgia.

EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs tried to reassure Europeans in his blog by telling them, "Much like the car and telephone took time to catch on, you will one day appreciate the new era of lighting."

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