Our massive bulb giveaway is being run in partnership with NIE Energy as part of our energy saving week.
Every customer who buys a Belfast Telegraph at selected outlets today will get a free Osram Duluxstar 15w (65w equivalent) energy saving lightbulb worth at least £3.99.
If each reader replaced a standard 65W bulb with the free energy saving bulb, they could save around £7 a year over the lifetime of the bulb — based on the light being kept on for four hours a day.
Our giveaway will save more than 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, reducing Northern Ireland's contribution of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and cutting our contribution to climate change.
The move echoes a similar campaign over the last year by NIE Energy, which has handed out nearly 55,000 free energy saving bulbs through charities and communities across Northern Ireland.
NIE Energy's Claire McCambridge says: "By giving away free energy saving bulbs to these groups, we're helping people reduce the amount of electricity they use. An energy bulb uses a fifth of the electricity of a standard bulb and can save up to £7 a year off your electricity bill.
"It used to be that energy saving bulbs were bigger than standard bulbs and either didn't fit or poked out the top of lamp shade. That's not the case anymore.
"You can now get energy saving bulb equivalents of nearly every shape of bulb you might need."
Anyone who hasn't been able to get a free bulb will be able to avail of NIE Energy's promotional price offer. The company is offering four types of top of the range bulbs at a special rate of £10.99 (plus p&p).
"I'm sure some people are put off buying energy saving bulbs because of the higher upfront cost of the bulb, even though they have much lower running costs.
"That's why we've subsidised the cost with this offer," Claire says.
The offer has been extended to April 30 2008. For more details and to order online visit www.nie yourenergy.co.uk or tel: 9145 1767 quoting 'NIE Energy offer'.
How lights lighten the cost
Not so long ago energy-saving lightbulbs were a bit like wheatgrass — very worthy and good for you, but strangely unpalatable.
On the plus side, they use up to 80% less electricity than a traditional bulb while producing the same amount of light, they help save money and they are a vital weapon in the battle against climate change.
But they did suffer from an image problem — people thought of them as being oddly-shaped protuberances poking uncomfortably out of the lampshade, slow to lighten up and emitting a cold, harsh light. And while that might once have been the reality, things have changed.
The technology behind energy-saving lightbulbs is constantly changing and they now come in all sorts of fittings, shapes and sizes — everything from the familiar bulb shape to round and candle-shaped varieties, with small or medium screw and bayonet fittings. These days, you can even buy halogen and dimmable energy saving bulbs, and thanks to the invention of 'soft tone' bulbs, you can bask in a warm glow rather than a cold blaze.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, the one thing we can all do to fight climate change is buy an energy saving bulb, cutting down our carbon footprint. In fact, if every household in the UK fitted three energy saving bulbs, in a year we would save enough electricity to power all the street lighting in the country.
And your wallet will reap the benefits — depending on how long your lights are lit, a single energy saving bulb could save up to £7 a year off bills.
Because it will last up to 10 times longer than a traditional bulb, it could save you around £70 before it needs replacing. Meanwhile, the average price of an energy saving bulb has plummeted to £3, so it won't take long to recoup any extra outlay. These days, there are more than 250 Energy Saving Trust Recommended bulbs on the market, suiting all homes, budgets and tastes.
Most energy savings bulbs now take no more than a few seconds to warm to full brightness and there is no difference in quality compared to soft tone traditional bulbs. There's everything from the Osram Dulux Economy — remarkably similar in appearance to the traditional bulb — and the delicate GE candle to the rather elegant GE Spiral and the Philips ES Dichroic which will replace those little halogen lights.
There are foreshortened versions such as the Sylvania mini-lynx fast start from Screwfix Direct. And the Megaman ultra compact candle even sports a wispy-looking curlecue at the tip to mimic the appearance of a candle. At the moment, the Osram Dulux El Dim is the only fully dimmable energy saving bulb, but more are due to be developed this year.
NIE Energy, which is giving away a free energy saving bulb with the paper today, is keen to help people use as little energy as possible. Wilma Stewart from NIE Energy saYS: "One very quick and simple thing to do to save money off your electricity bills and help save the planet is to replace standard light bulbs with energy saving ones.
"If every energy saving bulb we have given out today replaced a standard bulb, over £595,000 would be saved off electricity bills a year, based on the light being on four hours a day. On top of the financial savings, 673 tonnes of CO2 would also be saved per year."