The European Union looks set to ban conventional incandescent lamps by 2012 to save energy and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

Experts from EU member states have voted in favour of a ban on traditional incandescent lamps. The ban could take effect as early as September 2009 if the EU report becomes law. The regulation will now be scrutinised by the European Parliament. It is scheduled for formal adoption by the European Commission in March 2009.

“This groundbreaking measure delivers a clear message about the EU's commitment to reach its energy efficiency and climate protection targets. By replacing last century lamps by more performant technologies, European homes will keep the same quality of lighting, while saving energy, CO2 and money," aid EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

The regulation targets lamps typically used in households (in particular incandescent lamps, halogen lamps and compact fluorescent lamps) by setting minimum energy efficiency and functionality requirements.

The regulation takes into account consumer expectations in terms of aesthetics, functionality and health concerns. It progressively removes incandescent lamps from the market in a way that allows manufacturers to adapt their production.

Consumers will still have the choice between long-life compact fluorescent lamps that currently yield the highest energy savings (up to 75% less energy than incandescent lamps), or efficient halogen lamps that are fully equivalent to incandescent bulbs in terms of light quality, providing between 25% and 50% energy savings.

Depending on the number of lamps installed, an average household switching from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps could make net savings (taking into account higher purchasing price of the lamps) between € 25 and 50 a year on their electricity bill. This means that € 5-10bn will be reinjected every year into the EU economy.

The move has been welcomed by Philips Lighting. "This decision is a milestone in our efforts to accelerate the switch to energy efficient lighting solutions,” says Rudy Provoost, CEO of Philips Lighting. “Lighting offers a great opportunity to not only significantly reduce energy consumption and carbon emission and as such contribute to a better environment; it also provides economic benefits.”