Europe Begins Phasing Out Incandescent Lightbulbs

September 10, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

The European Union (EU) has begun its ban of the production of 100W (and above) incandescent light bulbs with the overall goal of replacing them with more energy efficient lighting technologies. Eventually, only such lower wattage options as compact fluorescent (CFL), halogens, digital technologies, and light-emitting diodes (LEDS) will be available. The phase-out began on September 1, and will continue in several stages, with the additional lower-wattage bulbs being replaced gradually until 2016.

The EU says energy-saving lamps will cut annual CO2 emissions in Europe by 15 million tons and many experts claim that consumers who switch to the energy-saving bulbs will save hundreds of Euros a year in electric costs.

There are critics of the move, who say that the CFL’s light is too cold and not bright enough. Many consumers are already stocking up on the traditional bulbs, and stores are reporting a massive increase in sales of the bulbs with the older, less "green" technology. Retailers are allowed to sell the older bulbs that they already had in stock prior to September 1, but further stocking of the incandescent bulbs is no longer allowed.

In a blog article, Andris Piebalgs, the EU’s Energy Commissioner, admitted that the European Commission is encountering "reservations as it is nudging Europe towards a new era of lighting. Although this move has been welcomed by many, some consumers are still uncomfortable with the idea of giving up their familiar light bulbs in favor of modern and more efficient alternatives. However, although the products might be different, they offer the same advantages and so much more."

The United States is scheduled begin a similar program to that of the EU. Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, a phase-out of incandescent bulbs is scheduled, beginning with elimination of 100W bulbs by 2012. By 2014, when the phase-out is scheduled to deal with the 40W level, consumer lighting must use 25 to 30% less energy than current levels.By 2020, the level for U.S. lighting must be 70%.