CFL Sales Plummeting in the US--Right When they Could Help Most


Image via Cleaner Greentechnica

It's literally one of the cheapest, easiest things you can do to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. Your lightbulb burns out, you go to the store, and you buy a Compact Fluorescent Light bulb to replace it. These can cost as low as $2 now, they last some 7 times longer than normal bulbs, and they use less energy--saving you money on your electric bills. But we know all that. So why aren't we buying them? Sales for CFLs are plummeting--in some states, they're down as much as 50%. What's going on?Blame poor marketing, consumer reluctance to embrace an unfamiliar product, or the slightly higher price tag--all certainly factor in. But the bottom line is that after gaining a successful foothold in the lightbulb market back in 2007, it's been downhill.

Green Inc. reports:

national sales of the bulbs have declined 25 percent from their peak in 2007, with sales in some regions such as Vermont and parts of Massachusetts declining 35 to 50 percent. Further, he noted, shipments of C.F.L.s ... down 49 percent in 2009 over 2007 levels.
And a full 90% of sockets are still stuffed with incandescent bulbs, despite a decades long marketing push to get the far superior CFLs to catch on. Now, CFL makers are worried that without increased subsidies and incentive programs, they could lose even the small market share they've managed to muster.

This is all pretty incredible to me--even if people don't care that they're using less electricity from an environmental standpoint, don't people care that they could be saving money? Sales have fallen harder as the recession deepened--exactly a time when people should be expected to look for ways to save money. I guess it's just a testament to the short-sightedness of the American consumer--we've developed a severely bad habit of placing instant gratification and short term savings over practical investment (just look at our rate of savings compared to consumer spending over the last 20 years).

It may be time to rethink our CFL strategy here.

More on CFLs
Evangelizing Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Wal-Mart Aims to Sell 100 Million Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs in One Year

Tags: Carbon Emissions | Electricity | Energy | Energy Efficiency