Bob: Now I think I understand part of the state-mandated requirements included in Ohio Senate Bill 221: Everyone pays for the “Ohio Energy Conservation Kit.” It has been automatically charged to your electric bill even if you do not receive the kit.

The kit contains nine CFL’s (compact fluorescent light bulbs), two LED night lights, one furnace whistle and one smart power strip/surge protector.

I wonder how many people do not know they have paid for this kit even if they do not sign up for it?

The electric companies are going to make a nice profit charging some people for something they did not receive.

I compare this to an illegal charge to everyone’s credit card.

Gary D. Cromley

Akron

Gary: If you understand “part of” SB 221, you’re way ahead of me. Most convoluted thing I’ve ever seen.

But more to the point — yes! That is exactly what is happening, and I’ll bet not more than two FirstEnergy customers out of 100 know they’re already paying for something they have to request to actually get.

Upon further review, I was wrong. At least 3 percent of FirstEnergy’s 1.8 million Ohio customers know about it, because that’s how many have requested the kits since the program began May 1, the company says.

The first kits were delivered to customers June 5.

“We are pleased with this response rate, and demand remains steady,” company spokesman Chris Eck said via email.

When asked why customers don’t receive the kits by default, in view of the fact that they’re already paying for them, he responded, “There is still resistance to CFLs among some consumers.”

“Programs that automatically sent CFLs to customers have resulted in resistance, and most utilities are now either asking customers to opt in or providing either coupons or instant rebates at participating retailers, instead.

“This model is working nationwide.”

Well, it’s not working for me, philosophically speaking. But neither FirstEnergy nor the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio much care.

So we might as well go after what we’ve already bought.

If you are an Ohio Edison customer, you can get the Energy Conservation Kit by calling 1-877-639-0218. You’ll need to have your account number in front of you.

Or, you can request a kit online at www.ohioenergykit.com. (To learn about other energy-saving programs available through FirstEnergy, punch up www.energysaveohio.com).

Delivery can take up to six weeks.

Although CFLs are butt-ugly, if you ask me, they do save energy and can last as much as 10 times longer than a regular bulb.

When asked the retail value of the kits, Eck said you’d pay about $80 in a store. They contain the following (although the wattage mix is subject to change):

•?Three CFLs that are equivalent to traditional 100-watt bulbs.

•?Two CFLs equivalent to 75 watts.

•?Four CFLs equivalent to 60 watts.

•?A “smart’ power strip with a surge protector.

•?Two LED night lights.

•?A furnace whistle.

A furnace whistle?

“It’s a device that attaches to your furnace filter,” Eck says.

“As the filter gets clogged with dirt, air pressure builds behind the filter, forcing more air through the opening in the whistle.

“Eventually, the airflow causes the whistle to blow, indicating it’s time to change your furnace filter.”

Well ... I suppose I’d much rather have a furnace whistle than a nose whistle.

Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or bdyer@thebeaconjournal.com.