Free CFL’s but program will cost you

Compact fluorescent light bulb

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I’ve been using compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL’s) for some time, and have gotten them rather cheap through rebates with Missouri utilities.  If you don’t get a deal on them, they will cost you but they last longer and save you money over the long haul.  Now, FirstEnergy customers will get discounts to buy CFL’s, but the entire energy efficiency program will cost Ohio consumers.

Under Ohio law, electric utilities need to reduce energy demand by 22.2% by the year 2025.  The utilities need to create plans to meet yearly benchmarks as they strive for their reduction in 2025.

FirstEnergy’s plan was postponed in 2009 over controversy with its CFL energy efficiency component. This time, the Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) Chairman Todd A. Snitchler said the Commission, “….approved FirstEnergy’s plan on the grounds that the projected savings achieved through conservation will exceed program costs.”

The program will cost consumers $1.50 a month for three years, with 30 cents going toward the revamped CFL program.

The new CFL program, will be voluntary and offer residential and small business customers up to six high-efficiency light bulbs.   The bulbs will be delivered if you request, or you can order them online or through an agency that helps low-income families.

You’ll also be able to buy discounted 23-watt (equivalent of 100 watt regular bulb) bulbs at Home Depot and Lowes. The cost will be no more than 50-cents a bulb which is a great price.

PUCO estimates CFL’s will save a customer an estimated $49.25. The savings will be more than the yearly cost of the program.  Over three years, consumers will dole out around $54 so it will take a little over a year using CFL’s to recoup that cost.

To request a CFL, call 1-888-846-2235.  The bulbs will show up at retailers in April or May.

Appliance turn in program
The other components include incentives for customers who increase energy efficiency.  There will be an appliance turn-in program that will offer residential customers up to $50 for a new appliance, free pick up and disposal service for refrigerators, freezers, and room air conditioners. The $50 incentive will reduce to $35 six months into the program.

Home Energy Audit
You’ll be able to get a home energy audit for a discounted rate of $100. These audits typically cost a few hundred dollars. Customers who make changes as a result of the audit will then be eligible for rebates. Many of the changes are not cheap, so know this going into the audit.

Programmable Thermostat
Residential customers can get a programmable thermostat that the utility can set back on high demand days.  KCP&L has a similar program in Missouri that I took advantage of years ago. The setback is really not that big of an issue if you program your thermostat as intended. In several years with the free thermostat, I think they tapped into it once or twice. FirstEnergy’s program would allow the thermostat to be set back four degrees for up to four hours.

Energy Efficient Incentives
Builders and business will earn rebates for hitting energy efficiency targets in new residential homes.  Businesses that sell energy efficient programs will earn financial incentives as well.

Weatherization
Low-income customers will get help with weatherization efforts and will receive energy education. There are already a lot of weatherization programs out there, and this will likely complement the programs that already exist.

Share your opinion about the revamped program by clicking “Comment.”

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2 responses to “Free CFL’s but program will cost you

  1. fritz piskur

    if this is optional why do i have to pay if i dont recieve bulbs? apparently the puco has moved to the vest pocket of ohio edison since the last info i got off google was that all cfl bulbs are made in china not the us

  2. i guess we should all take advantage of the programs if we have no choice.