How to Get Free Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) Bulbs
Making the switch to compact fluorescent (CF) light bulbs may be a difficult transition for many people. The cost of the CF light bulbs are much greater than “old fashioned” or incandescent light bulbs, but the cost savings on electricity usage is supposed to offset the cost along with the length of time the CF light bulbs are supposed to last (3-5 years) making replacement cost lower.
Like many people we have made the switch and have encountered trouble. Many of the CF bulbs only last one year if only a few months more than incandescent light bulbs not making them worth the upfront cost. Other issues include the mercury contained in the bulbs along with other safety issues. The only CF bulb I had that actually lasted more than 5 years was a GE bulb I purchased in 2001. I had it in a bedside lamp and not until the end of 2009 did it begin to go dim and needed to be replace. It was a very heavy bulb that was well manufactured. The bulbs purchased now are much lighter and do not seem as high of quality making the transition to CF bulbs questionable.
Environmentally, the compact fluorescent lamp or CFLs for short are more energy-efficient lighting alternatives to incandescent bulbs. The more CFLs in use will reduce the carbon foot print throughout the world. The United States is not the only country to establish phase-out programs of incandescent light bulbs. Other countries such as Switzerland, Australia, and even Malaysia have introduced programs to increase the use of CFLs.
So how can you make the switch and avoid the upfront cost of the bulbs? Well there are several options. First you can join a wholesale club such as Sam’s Club and purchase bulk packages of CFLs for a few dollars or you can contact your energy company to find out if they have a refund program, coupons, or provide free CFLs to customers.
Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) provides customers with free CFLs. This program is available to Duke Energy customers and can be accessed on the Duke Energy web-page or by calling 1-800-943-7585 to see if you are eligible. According to Duke Energy, “An ENERGY STAR® qualified CFL saves about $30 over its lifetime in energy costs. Replace your home’s six most frequently used bulbs with CFLs and watch your savings grow to $180 over the lifetime of the bulbs” (Duke Energy, 2011). If the company is willing to provide free CFLs then it may be worth it to make the switch.
Duke Energy also has rebate and coupon programs to increase the use of CFLs by customers. Our family used a coupon to purchase a six pack of 20 watt energy smart CFLs manufactured by General Electric. The coupon was sent to us by Duke Energy and we could use it at Walmart to receive the product for free. The next promotion provided our family with a free box of CFLs directly from Duke Energy. This package contained 6 CFLs and was called an Energy Efficiency Starter Kit. Finally and most recently (about one year after the Starter Kit) we received an Energy Efficiency Kit from Duke Energy that contained 3 CFLs.
Receiving the free CFLs helps to defray the cost of making the switch and encourages consumers to use the more energy efficient product. If you are not eligible through Duke Energy, check with your local utility company to find out if programs exist in your area. If you cannot find any programs you can simply purchase CFLs from Wal-mart, Meijer, Home Depot, or even smaller stores such as Walgreens.
CFLs contain mercury which is a natural element found on earth, but is harmful to humans. If you have a CFL burn out then you should recycle the lamp rather than tossing it in the trash. Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Ikea, Lowe’s, Orchard Supply and other retailers offer free in-store recycling.
Check with your local service provider to find out if CFL programs exist. Taking advantage of free products can help to minimize the initial cost of switching to CFLs and can reduce your energy cost over the lifetime of the CFL. Some current light sockets in your home may need to be replaced to accept CFLs so keep this in mind as you make the switch.