Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Who pays for 'free' CFL handouts?

OK, now that I've posted the relevant information, time for some regular blogging!


Lately, there have been world-wide announcements of free CFL givaways and special trade days where you can swap your incandescent bulb for a CFL. The recent Earth Day was one such day when many utilities, organisations and stores gave away free CFLs (though presumably not the highest quality bulbs on the market).

Here are just a few random examples of what seems to be a globally coordinated drive to give away CFLs by giving hesitant customers a free taste in the hope that they'll buy more:

Home Depot Earth Day 1 Million CFL Giveaway (U.S.A)
250,000 Free Light Bulbs Distributed as CUB celebrates anniversary as State's Largest Watchdog Group (Chicago, IL, U.S.A.)
California Utility Company has Comprehensive CFL Plan (California, U.S.A)
State Utility Distributes Free and Subsidized CFLs (Cape Town, South Africa)
Asian Development Bank to Fund Philippines' Energy-Efficient Light Project; $100M Fuel Cost Savings Expected Annually
Maha Vitaran to offer CFL bulbs for free (India)
India Launches Plan to Distribute 400 Million Compact Fluorescent Lights to Households

Or is it that they've become so unpopular by people discovering their many drawbacks that they have to give them away now? ;)

But who pays for all these free bulbs that are given out?

- We are, obviously. Taxpayers & customers. Whether we switch or not.

"To get government credits for green initiatives, local electricity companies are even giving them out free of charge." [1]

But why CFLs of all things? Why not free or subsidised intelligent sensors, dimmer switches and thermostats? Why not free bus, train and subway tickets?

Update 12 Oct: Some utilities even have the nerve to openly bill their customers for the "free" CFLs they've been handing out, and for the electricity these customers won't be using:

Plan to distribute efficient light bulbs lands with a thud when consumers see bill

1. Holdouts for Humble Bulb Defy a Government Phase-Out


  1. That last article
    Holdouts for Humble Bulb Defy a Government Phase-Out

    says in it

    "In the United States, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. effectively bans the sale of almost all incandescent bulbs by 2014, although last year Representative Michele Bachman, a Minnesota Republican, introduced the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, a bill that would overturn it."

    Hooray for Minnesota and Michele :-)

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