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In Europe, traditional light bulbs are being phased out, starting today. Those old incandescent light bulbs are seen as energy guzzlers. Replacing them in all 27 member countries is part of an EU plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by the year 2020.

Eleanor Beardsley sends this report.

BEARDSLEY: Thomas Edison may be rolling over in his grave, but that won't stop Europe from switching off its light bulbs. While stores will be able to sell off their remaining stocks, starting today, the manufacturer and import of the standard 100 watt and the frosted light bulb - 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 U.S. 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.

Mr. FERRAN TARRADELLAS (Energy Spokesman for the EU): The equivalent of energy that we save with this measure, it's equivalent to the electricity consumption of Romania. It could bring back to the European economy around five billion euros per year.

BEARDSLEY: 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.

For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.

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