Wal-Mart’s bright idea

Dan Grech Jan 2, 2007


SCOTT JAGOW: Wal-Mart just held a summit about light bulbs. No kidding. The company has decided it’s ridiculous that Americans buy so many electricity-wasting bulbs every year. So, it’s gonna try to get people to buy more energy efficient ones. But as sensible as this might sound, Wal-Mart will face some resistance. Dan Grech reports.

DAN GRECH: Compact fluorescent lamps, as they’re called, cost about $2, four times more than a conventional bulb. But they use 75 percent less energy than regular bulbs and they last 10 times longer, so they don’t have to be replaced as often.

Reporter Michael Barbaro profiled Wal-Mart’s push for fluorescent bulbs in today’s New York Times. He says the bulbs can be a hard sell.

MICHAEL BARBARO: They look incredibly funky. Most people see these light bulbs for the first time and are frightened and amused and don’t understand why they look like a swirly cup of ice cream.

A bigger hurdle is manufacturers. While regular bulbs are made in the U.S., the fluorescent ones are all made in Asia. And because fluorescent bulbs last longer . . .

BARBARO: You screw it in, it last 8 years; you’re not going back to Wal-Mart or any other store to buy another bulb.

If Wal-Mart meets its goal, Americans would save $3 billion a year in electricity.

In New York, I’m Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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