AKRON, Ohio - FirstEnergy customers are getting a postcard in the mail offering a package full of energy saving tools including compact fluorescent light bulbs, but the price tag has some wondering if it’s a legitimate program. Five On Your Side found this is legitimate, and there is no cost to the customer. The catch: you already pay for this program in your service.
The kit includes compact fluorescent light bulbs of various wattages, LED night lights, a smart power strip, and a whistle that attaches to your HVAC air filter and alerts you when it’s time to change the filter.
"I want to know what the catch is,” FirstEnergy customer Debbie said.
The cost of the kits is collected through residential rates as approved with Senate Bill 221, also known as Ohio’s energy efficiency law. Utility companies are required to reduce consumption, and this is one of the ways FirstEnergy is hoping to bring down usage.
CFL bulbs use less energy and last longer than incandescent bulbs.
Customers have been paying for these energy saving programs on their bills. The charge is about 13-cents a month for 500 kilowatts of energy. If you use more energy, you’re paying a little more for the programs. Over a three year period, the cost on your bill is about $4.68.
“When you look at the numbers they are paying for it, but they’re paying a mere fraction of the overall benefit it will be,” FirstEnergy spokesman Mark Durbin said.
Some customers are reluctant to switch to the new bulbs.
“I have some of the old ones because I don’t like the new ones. They don’t give off the right light,” Debbie explained.
Debbie stockpiles the old bulbs as the government phases them out and takes them off store shelves. Debbie said she might install some of the CFL bulbs, but isn’t sure about the savings.
“If they work it’s a good thing, but do they work?” Debbie wondered.
CFL bulbs use up to 75-percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last up to ten times longer. The U.S. Energy Star program estimates these CFL bulbs save the average customer up to $40 over the life of the bulb.
Tanisha Smith also worries about the estimated savings, but she thinks she might take advantage of the program since she’s already paying for it.
“I’ll try to see if they work, and if they don’t I’ll call the light company,” Smith explained.
To order a kit, call 1-877-639-0218 or sign up at http://www.ohioenergykit.com .
They are expected to start shipping June 1. Also, you will need your account number to sign up for the kit that you’re already paying for.
FirstEnergy is prepared to mail out 325,000 kits. If there is more demand, the utility will have to re-evaluate the program to see if it continues.
The fees on your bill will continue for 3 years.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Consumer Advocate Stories
This is Cyber Monday and financial experts predict as much as two billion dollars will be spent online by millions of shoppers. Businesses right here in northeast Ohio are benefiting from what's known as the "Black Friday of the Internet."
Billions of dollars are expected to fly around the Internet during Cyber Monday which is the World Wide Web's version of Black Friday. Those kinds of numbers have the attention of not only businesses, but criminals, too. There are fake websites, emails, and pop-up, but we have the On Your Side tips to keep your transactions safer.