The drop in price definitely helps but initially the intrinsic payback value due to duration of bulb life and electricity savings had already made cfl’s more cost effective than traditional incandescents.
In addition to the cheaper price other important improvements have been made to the CFL. They no longer hum or buzz, they turn on immediately (without flickering), they are smaller, and there are more options for more appealing light. A major deterrent of early CFLs were that they had that unflattering fluorescent light that makes faces look pale and kind of purple. Now the light they emit is much closer to that of an incandescent bulb. Additionally, the green movement (or whatever you want to call it) has raised awareness about the bulbs, their improvements, and the cost savings.
The reduced price of CFLs has probably helped to increase sales in households with more modest incomes. Most consumers couldn’t afford $15-$20 per bulb ten years ago, regardless of facts about lifetime energy savings. Now, at a couple dollars per bulb, the cost savings are more pronounced and easier to understand in the short term.
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