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EU plans to switch off old-style light bulbs

Brussels – The European Union decided to phase out traditional household light bulbs by September 2012 in favour of new energy-saving models that use a fraction of the electricity.

From next September, 100-watt versions of the old incandescent bulbs will be banned from Europe’s shops and other bulbs with lower wattage will follow in the ensuing years, EU experts decided in a vote in Brussels.

"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.

The European Commission estimated that the measure would save the electricity consumption equivalent to 11 million European households or the yearly output of 10 500-megawatt power stations.

It also said that the move should cut carbon dioxide emissions by 15 million tonnes and save households as much as EUR 50 a year on their electricity bills.

At the moment, around 85 percent of household lights are considered to use too much electricity.

EU nations have agreed to make 20-percent cuts in energy use by 2020 as part of a wider climate change package.

New technology light bulbs, such as compact florescent lights (CFL) can save up to 80 percent of the energy used by the worst old-style lights in homes.

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

"We really needed to be sure that in phasing out conventional light bulbs, we would have the same quality of light," he said. "Money is being saved, CO2 emission is being saved, but the quality of light isn’t changing."

The decision still has to be endorsed by the European Parliament.