Gallery: Europe’s Incandescent Light Bulb Ban Begins Today

incandescent light, incandescent bulb, incandescent bulb ban, bulb ban, ban, EU, Europe, CFL, climate change, lighting

Europe’s ban on incandescent light bulbs goes into effect today in an attempt to enforce energy efficiency standards on lighting. As of today, retail stores are no longer allowed to purchase high wattage incandescent light bulbs to offer to customers. In fairness to shopowners, they are, however, allowed to continue to sell whatever they have in stock until supplies run out. While many hail this as a necessary restriction in order to advance efforts against climate change, others complain that the ban is an attack on personal preferences. We’re excited to see the change and look forward to when the US’s efficiency standards are elevated as well.

Lighting upgrades are the low hanging fruits of energy efficiency, and just one of a series of measures being put into effect towards the E.U. goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. As you may already know, CFLs use 75% less energy than traditional incandescents, and it is for exactly this reason that the ban was initially proposed.

The EU will serve as a testing ground for how the ban plays out as well as an example for other nations to take action. The United States is also planning on phasing out incandescent bulbs but not until 2012.

Today’s bleak economic climes may also help to spur along the preference of CFLs to incandescents as switching can save homeowners upwards of $50 over the life of the bulb and will likely pay for itself in energy savings in less than 6 months. Those who feel that CFLs have inferior light quality compared to a standard incandescent can feel better knowing that ambiance and color in CFLs are quickly improving.

via NYTimes


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  1. lighthouse10 September 23, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks Nia

    Yes, I think we should take care of the environment,
    but that does not in my view mean having to ban simple, cheap, locally made, bright, small size, mercury-free and safe to use ordinary incandescent light bulbs, for the reasons I gave above.

  2. Nia September 22, 2009 at 12:29 am


    Thanks a lot for such detailed explanations. It would be interesting to see how it goes, and if there will be any lessons learned that might keep the US from implementing the same ban.

  3. billyyvr September 8, 2009 at 10:20 am

    So how do you recycle the compact incandescent bulbs with all the mercury in it? After decades of contaminating landfills with plastic and other “inventive” non-biodegradable, we are now avoiding these in Canada. In fact, we are looking at banning the compact incandescents here in Canada while the light bulb manufacturers are trying to explain that the *amount* of mercury in the bulbs is negligible!

    To quote the NY Times site
    “Compact fluorescent lights have problems beyond light quality. They contain mercury, and few recycling centers will accept them. So at the end of life, they still pose an environmental hazard.

    “We’re working to reduce mercury, but the amount will never go to zero,” Mr. Petras said.

    That is why Mr. Jerabek, for one, calls compact fluorescent lights “a temporary fix.” ”

    I would rather use a oil lamp than buy the compacts, For God’s sake, the EPA is even advocating the use of these compacts even though they know that they will probably end up buried in the earth, contaminating the water-table. Not only short-sighted but out-right criminal!!

    People, don’t believe everything they tell you!! Anything for a buck and to hell with the environment!

    Billy in Vancouver

  4. lighthouse10 September 2, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Regarding mercury problems including what to do if a CFL breaks etc see

    Unlike most who are against the ban on light bulbs here in Europe,
    I agree that power station emissions should be dealt with
    (also for polluting substances, whatever about CO2 gas)

    However, light bulbs don’t give out gases, and I believe such emissions can and should be dealt with directly,
    as explained on

    The ban is wrong for many reasons,
    unnecessarily removing choice and not giving the savings expected.
    Even if the targeting of light bulbs was justified, a tax would give governmenrt income with the reduced sales,
    that could help fund renewable energy and home energy/insulation conversion schemes,
    lowering emissions more than any remaining light bulbs were causing them.
    Also a tax could be revenue neutral, allowing for efficient products to have no or lower sales taxes,
    though as said there is no real need to tax the bulbs either.

    The ban responsible EU Energy Commissioner Piebalgs has defended the ban on his blog
    – I made an extensive comment to that, as seen.

    Also see the comment to previous Inhabitat blog entry here:

  5. clairseach September 2, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I heard a theatre lighting designer talk on the radio about how he won’t use CFL’s in his house. I only use them in places where the colour of the light doesn’t matter too much like the basement, porch lights, etc.

    I’m hoping that LED lights can be better colour balanced someday, maybe by mixing red and green LED’s with white ones to warm them up.

    It’s a challenge making an efficient light that doesn’t cast an eerie glow and make people’s skin look sickly.

  6. Nia September 2, 2009 at 9:58 am

    But what about mercury in CFLs?

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