Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Have Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs Really Dropped Enough in Price?

An article in The New York Times says that the McKinsey Global Institute will release a study today that says that the rate of growth of energy consumption worldwide can be more than halved during the next 15 years through energy efficiency measures using currently available technology (e.g., compact fluorescent light bulbs). According to the study, both consumers and industry could save money by taking advantage of potential energy savings. Instead of the current projected annual growth rate of 2.2%, greater energy efficiency efforts would lead to a projected growth rate of 0.6%.

In discussing why consumers have been slow to replace conventional incandescent light bulbs with far more energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs the article says that “Years ago, these efficient light bulbs cost up to 10 times as much as conventional incandescent bulbs, and their light had a somewhat different hue. But today, the light spectrum has been corrected and compact fluorescents are only slightly more costly than conventional bulbs, yet they last 10 times as long and consume 75 percent less electricity. The overall financial advantage of using compact fluorescent bulbs is obvious and sizable, even if the initial purchase price is higher.” Only slightly more costly? At a visit at a Wal-Mart this year I found that a conventional light bulb sold in a 4-pack costs about 26 cents whereas an equivalent compact fluorescent bulb costs at least $3. Therefore, according to my calculations a fluorescent bulb costs about 12 times as much as a conventional bulb. If the gap in pricing has closed as the article contends I have so far been unable to locate any stores where this has taken place.

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