Page last updated at 22:50 GMT, Monday, 8 December 2008

EU wants end to old-style bulbs

Light bulb above boxes of bulbs
Improvements to conventional bulbs reached a limit 50 years ago

A European Union report has recommended banning conventional incandescent light bulbs by 2012 to save energy and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

Most light bulbs sold in the EU are of the type developed by Thomas Edison in 1879.

But the report says the EU could save up to $12bn (8bn) a year in energy bills by switching to low-energy bulbs.

The report needs the backing of the European parliament and all 27 member states to become law.

"It's very clear that this is a measure that will change the way that we consume energy," EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs told journalists.

Phase out

Once approved, the EU would phase out conventional bulbs between September 2009 and September 2012.

Dr Matt Prescott: "Energy-saving bulbs weren't good enough in the past"

Consumers will choose between long-life fluorescent bulbs or halogen lamps.

The EU says the measure will save households up to 50 euros ($64, 43) a year and pump up to 10bn euros ($13bn) into the economy.

The new-style lamps carry energy savings of 25% to 75% compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, which are little changed since they were invented almost 130 years ago.

The report also says the switch will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 12 million tonnes a year, and save energy equivalent to the consumption of 11 million European households.

Mr Piebalgs said that the phasing out had to be gradual so that "production facilities could adapt to the new lighting" and the quality of illumination could be ensured.

"European homes will keep the same quality of lighting, while saving energy, CO2 and money," he said.

Several nations including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Philippines have already announced they will phase out or restrict sales of traditional bulbs.

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