Has the mailing of free energy saving light bulbs to consumers worked?

In 2008 the government put in legislation so say that energy companies must put in measures to make consumers more energy efficiency and to assist people of low income in obtaining the necessary energy resources to heat and light their homes. The energy companies could address this matter in different ways to meet the targets that were set. The way most chose to adhere to the legislation was to send out thousands of low energy CFL bulbs. The plan here was to enable households to improve their energy efficiency and as a consequence to reduce the levels of CO2 created in the generation. This worked in part but there have been some flaws in the approach. Firstly, the supply of light bulbs exceeded demand and some 12 million were issued over the 2009 Christmas period and a lot were of low wattage and unsuitable for peoples requirements. As a result many light bulbs have remained in peoples draws and as a consequence will not contribute to energy efficiency and potentially have the adverse effect of increasing landfill !

Now energy experts say that there is a much better way than mailing out CFL light bulbs to address this situation to ensure that the environmental benefits are realised and that is to insulate peoples homes. This way it is assured that the CO2 emmisions will be saved and householder could then select the most appropriate light bulbs for their needs. To understand why this approach was not taken we need to look at the figures from the government.

A low energy bulb costing £2.97 will save 0.04 tonnes of carbon over its lifetime. Conversely insulating a typical 3 bedroom house costs £8760 and saves 18.08 tonnes of carbon. This means that the energy companies have been able to meet the criteria by mailing out 452 bulbs which has only cost them £1342 making them a huge saving in meeting the targets.

In addition energy companies have been able to put the energy saving light bulb costs on to consumers bills which is reported to have increased peoples annual electricity bills by around £100!

The Department of Energy and Climate Change have now picked up on this bad practise and thankfully banned the mailing of these light bulbs to achieve the carbon emmisions targets and have given the companies until mid 2010 to wind down the schemes.

So are we any the wiser for this initiative?

Well one thing is for sure. If you analyse the figures then they prove that the migration from traditional incandescent bulbs to CFL’s is a more cost effective way for consumers to reduce CO2 emissions than home insulation but only if it is approached in the correct way. So purchasing energy saving light bulbs is definitely the right thing to do, both to save money and the environment, but make sure that they are the correct specification for your needs and make sure that you use them.

2 thoughts on “Has the mailing of free energy saving light bulbs to consumers worked?”

    1. I think most of the energy companies have stopped doing this now as the governing bodies have realised that it was just done as a method to help them meet their energy conservation targets but these were not really wanted by the consumers,

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