By Fred Bever, Maine Public Broadcasting
Compact fluorescent light bulbs were once all the rage, promoted as an energy-efficient way to light homes and businesses. But those spiral-shaped CFLs may be fading into history. Light-emitting diodes are the coming thing now as states drop incentives for CFL purchases and invest in LEDs instead.
Ten years ago, state energy efficiency programs were spending millions of dollars — collected from consumers through their electricity bills — to promote the use of CFLs. More efficient than Thomas Edison’s incandescent bulb, CFLs also cost more, so states provided financial incentives to bring down the price.
They also mounted media marketing campaigns like a television spot that aired in Maine featuring animated talking bulbs.
Weird-looking or not, CFLs did indeed save households real money by using less electricity to produce the same light levels as ordinary bulbs. That’s why Efficiency Maine has spent as much as $5 million a year to help get them into Maine homes and businesses.