Watch for Falling CFLs

Over the past few months, many an Open Market post has been dedicated to the issue of compact fluorescent (CFL) lightbulbs vs. traditional incandescents. We’ve more or less come to a consensus that, while CFLs have lots of advantages over their rivals, no one wants to see Congress (or the states) nosing into things with a ban on the old technology or a mandate for the new.

The energy efficiency activistes, of course, argue that we silly Americans are too stupide to know what’s in our best interests, and are thus too slow at adopting this wondrous new technology. There are a lot of things wrong with this argument, not the least of which being that the number of CFLs being sold has already climbed to dramatic heights. Those savvy self-promoters in the Wal-Mart PR department even have a press release out today that makes this point quite well:

Last fall, Wal-Mart launched an ambitious campaign to sell 100 million CFLs by the end of 2007 to raise consumer awareness about a bulb that uses 75 percent less energy and can last 10 times longer. This week we’re proud to announce that Wal-Mart has surpassed that goal nearly three months ahead of schedule. We estimate that over the lifetime of the 100 million CFLs, these energy-saving bulbs will save our customers more than $3 billion on their utility bills and have the effect of taking 700,000 cars off the road, or conserving the energy needed to power 450,000 single-family homes.

So – Wal-Mart alone sells 100 million bulbs in less than a year and we still need a law pushing these things? Sound like the efficiency gurus need to learn a lesson from The Simpleton’s Guide to Energy Efficiency – conveniently available via the good folks at YouTube: