Bright Idea: EU Phasing Out Standard Lightbulbs

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The EU will start making the transition from power-draining lightbulbs to more energy efficient ones Tuesday, the European Commission said.

Several nations including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Philippines have already announced they will phase out or restrict sales of traditional bulbs as well. In 2007, President George W. Bush signed a bill that calls for the bulb to be phased out in the U.S. beginning in 2012.

The new European Union rules follow an agreement reached by the 27 EU governments last year to phase out the traditional incandescent lightbulb over three years starting this year to help European countries lower greenhouse gas emissions, the EU executive said Monday.

This aims to curb climate change and to reduce energy bills.

As of Tuesday, old standard frosted lightbulbs and clear bulbs of 100 watts and more will no longer be manufactured or imported into the EU as part of the plan.

The traditional incandescent bulbs are being replaced by long-life fluorescent or halogen lamps.

Consumers will still be able to buy the older bulbs until supplies run out. The EU says the switch from incandescent bulbs to more efficient ones will bring energy savings of 25 percent to 75 percent compared to the traditional bulbs.

The EU's executive has said the measure will save households up to euro50 ($71) a year and pump up to euro10 billion ($14 billion) into the economy.

The measure is part of a series of energy-saving measures planned by the EU to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming and to reduce energy expenditure.

Energy-strapped Tajikistan announced Monday it will ban the import of incandescent lightbulbs in an effort to conserve power. The move by the impoverished Central Asian country is meant to lessen Tajikistan's reliance on imported electricity.

Severe power shortages hit Tajikistan last winter after an import deal broke down. At the peak of the shortages, power was limited to 11 hours a day in the capital, Dushanbe, and about four hours a day elsewhere.

The incandescent bulb, which is little changed since Thomas Edison invented it in the 19th century, uses more power than energy-saving fluorescent lightbulbs and halogen lamps.

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