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European Union Phases Out Energy-Wasting Bulbs

As of today, it's going to be a whole lot harder to get your hands on a standard incandescent bulb in Europe. In an effort to improve energy efficiency by 20 percent by the year 2020, the European Union has mandated that factories must cease the production of frosted incandescents and 100-watt clear bulbs. The new, more energy-efficient bulbs consume up to 80 percent less energy.

These traditional bulbs will be restocked with halogen and CFL bulbs over the next few years. As of 2012, energy-efficient bulbs will be the only lighting available in Europe.

To hear about the controversy surrounding the switch,


However, if you're a fan of the energy-sucking bulbs, you can still buy them in stores where the bulbs are already in stock. Apparently some Europeans have been busy hording the 100-watt bulbs, preferring the traditional bulbs for their color and light quality, or even for health reasons. Migraine sufferers have said that the lighting exacerbates their headaches. In addition, epileptics have also said that the energy-efficient bulbs exacerbate their seizures, and object to the change.


While CFLs have improved greatly in light quality throughout the years, many people still believe that the light quality is very poor, even though a Popular Mechanics study actually showed that CFLs performed incandescents in overall light quality.

If you're a European reader, have you been affected by this change? Are you hording traditional bulbs, or are you a CFL convert? And if this same ban occurred in the United States, how do you think Americans would react?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
peterdub peterdub 7 years
@Roaring Silence Good point you make, that individuals (and businesses too) tend to go for cheaper solutions -whatever the product- that may not be so good for the environment. However, that applies to emissions - not energy. If any energy shortage develops, its price goes up, and, as said, people then buy more energy efficient products anyway - no need to legislate for it. With all the renewable energy options being developed (such as solar, wind, tidal, wave, geothermal, biomass, hydropower) - apart from renewable nuclear energy (via breeder reactors for used uranium and/or fusion development) I am sure you can see that energy supply is not a problem. Now, emissions are another matter. Whether or not you agree with the need to deal with CO2 emissions, transport/electricity based emissions contain many other substances good to avoid releasing (remember dioxins, sulphur dioxide, lead, mercury and other substances). But this time, market forces alone are not sufficient. Light bulbs and other electrical products don't give out these gases. Banning them is not dealing with the problem. If you want to know a full account of different ways to deal directly with transport/electricity emissions, read onwards Not all these ways take time or cost a lot of money: Nevertheless, if this IS assumed to take too long, a temporary taxation on inefficient products might be considered as described in the comment above. Note that a large tax equates to a ban, but retains choice, and can be lifted once sufficient low emission energy has been put in place: Indeed, the tax can help fund necessary power station and distribution emission changes. OK?
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 7 years
Way to go, peterdub. You're saying there is no shortage of energy. Most people however would probably agree that since the individual is looking out only for himself, and not the common good, he will always choose what's cheapest for him, not what's best for the environment. And to change one's way once all the energy resources are used up is a LITTLE late, don't you think?
peterdub peterdub 7 years
Note too that there is no shortage of energy: People -not politicians – pay for energy use, and if there was an energy shortage, the price rise would lead to more demand for efficient products anyway – no need to legislate for it. Emissions? Does a light bulb give out any gases? Power stations might not either: Why should emission-free households be denied the use of lighting they obviously want to use? Low emission households already dominate some regions, and will increase everywhere, since emissions will be reduced anyway through the planned use of coal/gas processing technology and/or energy substitution. A direct way to deal with emissions (for all else they contain too, whatever about CO2): The Taxation alternative A ban on light bulbs is extraordinary, in being on a product safe to use. We are not talking about banning lead paint here. It's just about lowering the amount of consumption. Even for those who remain pro-ban, taxation to reduce consumption would therefore make more sense, also since governments can use the income to reduce emissions (home insulation schemes, renewable projects etc) more than any remaining product use causes such problems. A few pounds/euros/dollars tax that reduces the current sales (EU like the USA 2 billion sales per annum, UK 250-300 million pa) raises future billions, and would retain consumer choice. It could also be revenue neutral, lowering any sales tax on efficient products. However, taxation is itself unjustified, it is simply preferable to bans for all concerned. Of course an EU ban is underway, but in phases, supposedly with reviews in a couple of years time - and the controversy might affect US and Canadian debate..
peterdub peterdub 7 years
Unlike most people against this ban, I agree with the need to do something about emissions (for all they contain, whatever about CO2) But banning light bulbs is not the way forward, and I think people who are less in agreement with the background arguments will just be turned off from cooperating in more important environmental measures. Let’s think about this: Europeans, like Americans, choose to buy ordinary light bulbs around 9 times out of 10 (light industry and EU Commission own data 2007-8) Banning what people want gives the supposed savings - no point in banning an impopular product! If new LED lights -or improved CFLs- are good, people will buy them - no need to ban ordinary light bulbs (little point). If they are not good, people will not buy them - no need to ban ordinary light bulbs (no point). The arrival of the transistor didn’t mean that more energy using radio valves were banned… they were bought less anyway. Supposed savings don't hold up anyway, for many reasons: ( onwards about brightness, lifespan, power factor, lifecycle, heat effect of ordinary bulbs, and other referenced research) Effect on Electricity Bills If energy use does indeed fall with light bulb and other proposed efficiency bans, electricity companies make less money, and they’ll simply push up the electricity bills to compensate (especially since power companies often have their own grids with little supply competition) Energy regulators can hardly deny any such cost covering exercise...
Asche Asche 7 years
They do, FinnLover. At least in the Germanic countries. SUVs have significantly taxes levied against them as opposed to other, more fuel efficient cars.
CoconutPie CoconutPie 7 years
I think they should have done the same they do with cars: tax the hell out of the ones that consume a lot of energy.
Asche Asche 7 years
@Casasugar: You're absolutely right...most of it IS happening in Germany. And, when the bulbs are no longer able to be found, the Germans will go over the border into Switzerland and buy 100 watt bulbs there!
Ellenora Ellenora 7 years
I whole-heartedly agree with those who get migraines and seizures from fluorescents or other lights other than the trust incandescent. As a migraine sufferer AND an Epileptic, fluorescents give me a migraine that leaves me bedridden for days. Don't even get me started on LED lights which are an Epileptics worst nightmare. I'm not even prone to light-induced seizures normally but I had a nasty, scary seizure that sent me to the hospital from an exhibit with non-flickering LED lights. It was by far the scariest seizure I've ever had that I remember. The only problem was I wasn't taken to the hospital until my aunt drove me home (an hour drive) so the doctors can't even say whether or not I should continue to avoid LED lights. I do anyway. My basement is currently the only ones with fluorescent bulbs. In school, I don't have that big of a problem but staying in the basement for long bouts of time is out of the question. I still get a headache from the school lights but one that's curable with Ibuprofen and stepping outside for awhile. Casa, while I do agree that switching over would be more beneficial for most of America, I'm going to have to disagree with switching over to LEDs completely anywhere in the hopeful future. It's just too dangerous for Epileptics, even those on medicine. The US and the EU should keep the incandescent bulb around but maybe only make it available to people like me in the future (i.e. those with a documented neurological disorder or disorders that prohibits the use of LEDs, CFLs and fluorescent).
Jepa Jepa 7 years
In Finland the coverage has been quite minimal, as well as the hoarding. Here the largest objection to the new bulbs is the price and that at the moment you still have to treat them as problem waste. I´we never heard of the lights not working in older electric fixtures, apart from those with dimmers (for which there are special CFLs). Most people I know have already switched to CFLs
Home Home 7 years
Apparently most of the bulb hording is happening in Germany, thanks in part to the media's sensationalist coverage of the issue. There are safe ways to dispose of the bulb. Check here to find out about disposing of CFLs in the US. And hopefully, by the time the US (finally) follows Europe's lead, LED technology will have replaced CFLs.
cirrus1701 cirrus1701 7 years
Now, hold on a minute. That's cool that you are able to use the cfl/energy efficient bulbs. It's a wee bit presumptuous to assume that anybody who doesn't share that same view is afraid of anything new. The bulbs have been known to affect the health of epileptics and migraine sufferers. Many older houses cannot physically handle the bulbs. The light itself is not pleasing to alot of people, including myself. And, I'll be damned if I have my government tell me what I can have in my freaking lamp! They have more important things to do! Plus, I find it rather interesting that some people who scream about mercury in the fish are perfectly willing to bring it into their homes in the form of a light bulb. No thanks. Not all of us are Luddites, friend.
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 7 years
I live in Germany, and I have always used energy efficient bulbs where possible. There are indeed many people who bought 400 years worth of old bulbs, presumably because they are afraid of anything new; and I think they ought to be smacked in the head with them.
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