German Businessman Imports 'Heatballs' to Dodge EU Light Bulb Ban

ESSEN, Germany — A businessman has devised a way around a European Union ban on incandescent llght bulbs of more than 60 watts by producing and pitching them as mini-heaters called "heatballs."

The European Union began phasing out the sale of incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy efficient bulbs in 2009. Sales of traditional light bulbs of 100 watts or greater were the first to go in September 2009, and sales of bulbs of 75 watts or greater followed this past September. Sixty-watt  incandescent bulbs will be available for sale until September 2011.

According to Reuters:

"Siegfried Rotthaeuser and his brother-in-law have come up with a legal way of importing and distributing 75 and 100 watt light bulbs -- by producing them in China, importing them as 'small heating devices' and selling them as 'heatballs' ...

"Rotthaeuser studied EU legislation and realized that because the inefficient old bulbs produce more warmth than light -- he calculated heat makes up 95 percent of their output, and light just 5 percent -- they could be sold legally as heaters."

To underscore the idea, the Heatball website (a screen shot from heatball.de is pictured above ) says, "The intended use of Heatballs is heating." The site also notes that 0.30 euros of the Heatball purchase price of 1.69 euros is being donated to a project for rainforest protection. That comes to about 42 cents of a purchase price equivalent to $2.37.

In the U.S., the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 calls for a transition to more energy efficient lighting starting January 1, 2012, when 100-watt incandescent bulbs will no longer be sold. Seventy-five-watt traditional bulbs will be the next go in 2013. Sales of 40- and 60-watt bulbs are to end in 2014.

Recent studies by GE Lighting and Osram Sylvania showed that although more Americans are purchasing energy efficient light bulbs, most are clueless about the regulations mandating the switch.

image above courtesy of Heatballs.de.