The European Union is set to ban old-style 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 the lamps. The ban could take effect as early as September 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.

“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 with better-performing technologies, European homes will keep the same quality of lighting, while saving energy, CO2 and cash,” said EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

The regulation targets lamps typically used in homes – especially incandescent, halogen and compact fluorescent lamps – by setting minimum energy-efficiency and functionality parameters.

Consumer expectations over aesthetics, functionality and health concerns are taken into account. The aim is to remove incandescent lamps from the market in a way that allows makers to adapt their production.

Consumers will still have a choice. They can opt for long-life, compact, fluorescent lamps, which currently yield the highest energy savings (up to 75% less energy than incandescent lamps).

The alternative is halogen lamps, which are equivalent to incandescent bulbs in terms of light quality, but save 25-50% of energy.

Switching to compact fluorescent lamps will typically save €25-50 per year per household, injecting €5-10bn back into the economy.