Consumers do not have to feel like outlaws for buying a hundred watt incandescent bulb in Europe… Not just yet. The law allows for a transition period. The phasing out of all wattages of traditional bulbs is to be complete by 2012.
Reactions to the start of the great European switch-over to more energy-efficient bulbs have been mixed. Europe’s consumer defence association BEUC acknowledged the positive potential of the move. The General Director of BEUC, Monique Goyens, said: “The economic bulbs use less energy, so they lower the consumer’s impact on the environment… therefore they cost a lot less. One can make an eighty percent savings on one’s electricity bill when one uses economic light bulbs.” New-tech bulbs also last longer than their predecessors, but there is still concern about the mercury in the new ones. Impressions among shoppers in the German city of Hamburg varied: “It’s old technology — it’s time for it to go.” “I don’t like the rather cold light in the living room.” “My wife is at a complete loss to find bulbs that are candle-flame shaped so they’ll take the lamp shades she has.” The new types cost more, but the European Commission stresses that their durability will still mean a household can save 25 to 50 euros on the power bill per year. And stores are allowed to sell you their old-fashioned stock. Patrick Vandenbogaerde, Commercial Director Brico Group, said: “We cannot import any more, since 1 September, nor produce any more (of) those light bulbs but we can still sell our old stock. Old stock is still available on the shelves.” The EU’s three-year scheme aims to remove from the market the basic design which the American illuminary came up with in 1879… progress, the European way.