The EU will start making the transition from power-draining lightbulbs to more energy efficient ones on September 1, the European Commission said. Britain has also introduced a ban on manufacture or import of 100 watt houhold bulbs from Tuesday.

Several nations including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Philippines have already announced they will phase out or restrict sales of traditional bulbs as well. In 2007, President George W Bush signed a Bill that calls for the bulb to be phased out in the US beginning in 2012.

The new European Union rules follow an agreement reached by the 27 EU governments last year to phase out the traditional incandescent lightbulb over three years starting this year to help European countries lower greenhouse gas emissions, the EU executive said on Monday.

This aims to curb climate change and to reduce energy bills. As of Tuesday, old standard frosted lightbulbs and clear bulbs of 100 watts and more will no longer be manufactured or imported into the EU as part of the plan.

The traditional incandescent bulbs are being replaced by long-life fluorescent or halogen lamps. Consumers will still be able to buy the older bulbs until supplies run out. The EU says the switch from incandescent bulbs to more efficient ones will bring energy savings of 25 per cent to 75 per cent compared to the traditional bulbs.

Ban on 100 Watt bulbs comes in UK from September 1

A ban on manufacturing and import of energy-inefficient incandescent bulbs for household use comes into effect on Tuesday in the UK, but British families are expected to defy it, exploiting a loophole in the new law.

According to a European Union directive aimed to cut down greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy security, member countries are banned from importing 100 watt incandescent bulbs.

The sale of such bulbs will be allowed only till the already manufactured stocks last, and will be gradually phased out between September 2009 and 2012.

However, the legislation only refers to "household lamps". The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has no power to ban the import or sale of the bulbs for "industrial use", which are available from specialist stores.

A DEFRA spokesman said there were "some exceptions" to bulbs which could be imported for specialist use.

Compact fluorescent, energy-saving bulbs use 80 per cent less electricity than standard lamps, the Energy Saving Trust said. These appliances could also save the average household £ 590 in energy bills over their lifetime of between eight and 10 years.