European Union Turns Off Incandescent Bulbs

The mandatory phase-out of the 100-watt incandescent and frosted light bulb takes effect in Europe Tuesday. The move was part of European Union’s drive to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by the year 2020 in the fight against global warming. Factories must immediately stop producing frosted incandescent bulbs and the least efficient 100-watt clear bulbs, but shops will be allowed to sell their remaining stock of such bulbs. Lower wattage incandescent light bulbs will also be phased out by 2012, and a similar ban is set to begin in the United States in 2012.

Under the new European law, incandescent bulbs will be progressively 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. According to the European Commission, European households could initially save up to 50 euros ($71.80) a year by switching, with greater savings in later years as costs for the more expensive but longer-lasting eco-bulbs fall, said the EU's executive European Commission, which first proposed the ban.

That said, there are mixed sentiments to this ban – while some are eager to jump onto the eco-friendly bandwagon, others opposed the ban because about some people are sensitive to light from such bulbs and suffer skin rash or vomiting when exposed to it. On the other hand, research showed that some Europeans were hoarding the older bulbs for cost reasons, or even out of nostalgia–sales of incandescent bulbs were up 35 percent in Germany, in the first half of the year.  

 

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