It’s the gift-giving season, and I see shoppers loading their trolleys with enormous boxes of biscuits. They will give most of these to people who work for them, I would guess. I’m sure the biscuits will be appreciated, but consider topping up that biscuit assortment with a gift that will keep giving for years to come. If someone you know has an electricity bill that eats a significant portion of their budget, consider giving them compact fluorescent globes.

My housekeeper returns to her newly electrified home in the North-West province during the holidays. About a year ago, when she was complaining about that her pre-paid meter there was running down too quickly every time she bought more electricity, I asked how many light fixtures she had in her home. The answer was seven, all of them using 60 watts or more. Since she didn’t have a refrigerator or geyser, these were probably the bulk of her electricity consumption. So last Christmas, I gave her 7 compact fluorescent globes that use just 11 watts each. She claims they made an instant improvement in her electricity expenditures.

Sadly, the very people who can benefit most from such an environmentally friendly technology are often the people whose budgets prevent them from paying more today to save energy in the future. That’s why compact fluorescent bulbs make a gift that is, well, brilliant.