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Goodbye old bulbs!
Farewell to the tungsten filament

Traditional tungsten filament lightbulbs are being phased out over the next couple of years. This means that, like it or not, the only choice will soon be the 'eco-friendly' low-energy bulbs. The UK government has already banished 150W bulbs from the shops, and 2009 will see the end of the 100 watt bulb. The remaining 60 and 40 watt bulbs will have gone by the end of 2011.

These moves are part of a wider campaign across the European Union to get us to switch to low-energy bulbs. The vast majority of the 600 million bulbs in UK homes are still the inefficient electricity-guzzling tungsten bulbs, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Phasing these out completely across the EU will cut carbon emissions by about 20 million tonnes per year.

Does this mean we'll all be sitting in the dark next winter, waiting for our low-energy bulbs to warm up? Well not any more. Modern designs are compact and reach full operating brightness much faster than some of the earlier types. Also, they can fit most existing light fittings, and some will work happily with a dimmer switch.

The choices can be mesmerizing, and of course there are pitfalls. So buy bulbs from a reputable retailer, select good-quality brands, and ask for advice on how they perform before you buy. Then, if you're not happy, you can exchange them for a different type.

Although energy-saving bulbs are more expensive than the old-style bulbs, the extra cost is quickly repaid by savings on electricity bills. For example, fitting a single energy-saving bulb can save around £3 per year on average, paying for itself within one year. And they last much longer than tungsten bulbs. So, as well as helping to save the planet, low-energy bulbs really do save you money.