KYIV (Reuters) - Ukrainians were urged on Monday to swap old light bulbs for free energy-efficient LED bulbs under a scheme intended to ease an energy shortfall caused by Russian attacks.
Launching a programme backed by the European Union and aimed at replacing 50 million light bulbs, Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said all adults would be able to exchange five incandescent light bulbs for five LED bulbs at post offices.
The goal is in the next few months to reduce by a quarter the energy deficit caused by Russian missile and drone strikes on power infrastructure that have frequently left millions of Ukrainians without light, water or heating.
"Ukraine is fighting on military, economic and energy fronts," Svyrydenko told a news briefing. "It is an important step to reduce pressure on Ukraine's energy system."
One LED bulb uses eight times less electricity than the older bulbs, she said.
Energy savings are vital to help Ukrainians get through the first winter since Russia invaded their country.
Government officials have said that about 40% of the energy system has been damaged, and some Ukrainian power plants are in territory that has been occupied by Russian forces.
National grid operator Ukrenergo said on Monday the energy deficit was "significant", with consumption growing at the start of the working week and temperatures falling below zero. It enforced scheduled electricity shutdowns across the country.
Matti Maasikas, the EU Ambassador to Ukraine, said the 27-nation bloc would provide up 30 million LED light bulbs and France would provide another 5 million bulbs. Maasikas said the EU was also providing generators and other equipment.
(Reporting by Olena Harmash, Editing by Timothy Heritage)