Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

Bright Idea

More than 200 million free energy-saving light bulbs have been sent to households over the last two years by energy suppliers. The mass mail-out was caused by gas and electricity suppliers trying to hit Government targets to reduce carbon emissions.

However, Which?, the consumer watchdog has calculated that each household has ended paying £45 each through higher energy bills to fund the scheme, even though many consumers objected to being sent the bulbs. Many complained about having to go to the Post Office to collect what they thought was a parcel, only to find it was a bulb that did not even fit any of their lamps.

“Consumers unwittingly paid for them to help energy companies avoid fines,” the Which? report said.

The really big question here is why am I not in the slightest surprised. Surely five minutes of sober reflection by any of the parties involved here would have convinced them that spamming consumers stuff was not sensible. Having said that this lot act like sailors on pay day going “bonkers in Honkers”. Difference is the sailors are doing it with their own money. Well strictly speaking the sore-headed, clapped-out and empty pocketed Jack Tars don’t demand a pay rise because they’ve partied too hard is a better analogy.

Companies had various options of how they hit their targets to reduce carbon emissions, but if they failed to hit their targets they could be fined 10 per cent of their turnover. The companies were, crucially, allowed to pass on the costs of the scheme to customers.

Ofgem, the industry regulator, calcuated that £84 out of the average dual fuel bill of about £1,200 goes on environmental levies, of which £45 goes directly towards funding CERT [Carbon Emissions Reduction Taget].

Now we get to the true screaming insanity. The only ways a company running fossil fuel generating sets can reduce CO2 emissions is to either improve the efficiency of their plant, trade in their coal/oil/gas stations for nukes or sell less of it’s product. The latter is Watt the lightbulbs were about one assumes – or maybe not. Is it possible the energy companies knew this scheme wouldn’t work but would be just enough to get the government off their backs? I mean most businesses would do almost anything to avoid a 10% levy on turnover.

Oh, and it hardly needs to be pointed out that the end result of this environmental initiative was to have millions of CFLs full of nasty stuff land-filled without them ever having produced any light.

Full story here.

PS We can also have this one for the “free isn’t actually free” files.


  1. Monoi says:

    I read that in the last Which magazine.

    Which? is getting worse and worse. What did they expect? Who did they think would end up paying any and all of the cost of those “green” initiatives?

    The really grating thing, and probably why I won’t renew my subs with them, is that, faced with the (predictable) results of idiotic government initiatives, they still want more government regulation in various different areas (such as food labelling).

  2. Peter MacFarlane says:

    Well at least we got SOMETHING for that £45.

    It’s a bit better than the many-times-£45 we’ve all paid – and will continue to pay – for all those stupid windmills, for which we got a big fat nothing, while the landowners and subsidy-farmers just got big and fat.

    Sometime we have to see through this scam, do we not?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: