The conventional bulbs are set to disappear from shop shelves in favour of greener, low-energy alternatives.

But householders have flooded to the shops in droves to snap up the remaining stocks.

Major supermarkets and DIY stores, including Sainsburys, Asda and Homebase, have reported that they have already run out of the household staple.

Retailers stopped ordering in stocks of the incandescent 100-watt bulbs at the start of the year under a voluntary government scheme that aims to encourage people to make the switch to fluorescent lights now.

According to the Daily Mail, one panic buyer, Loretta Spottiswood from Ham, in south west London, said she had stockpiled 50 of the bulbs at her home.

“My neighbour opposite has energy saving bulbs and the lights are horrible and they take ages to warm up,” she said.

Despite their green credentials, low-energy light bulbs have proved unpopular with some householders who claim they pose health risks, or do not work with all types of light fittings.

The Migraine Action Association has claimed that they can trigger migraines and the British Association of Dermatologists believes they could exacerbate certain conditions (see related story).

The EU Commission agreed last month to phase out the traditional incandescent bulbs by 2012.

European Lighting Manufacturers have backed the plans despite public concern.

“The phase-out of traditional lamps represents a substantial change for consumers and the industry,” said Gerald Strickland, secretary general of the European Lamp Companies Federation.

“As lamp manufacturers, we are prepared to mobilise our production capacities to help Europe make the switch to energy efficient lamps.”

Kate Martin

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie