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Switching light bulbs saves money, environment

September 26, 2008
By MIRIAM MOELLER, Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE - If every household in the United States would replace just one incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb, in a year, it would save energy to power 3 million homes, and it would reduce greenhouse gases equal to the emissions of 800,000 cars.

Marquette's Northern Options and Lansing's Urban Options - educational energy centers - are helping Michigan residents financially to make an energy-saving light bulb switch.

Starting on Wednesday, ACE Hardware in Marquette, Ishpeming and Calumet as well as Menards will offer standard CFLs for 99 cents a piece.

Article Photos

Menards Electrical Department Manager Brian Kimball installs a compact fluorescent light bulb into a light fixture in the store Thursday in Marquette. (Journal photo by Andy Nelson-Zaleski)

"CFLs use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs and last up to 10 times longer, saving consumers up to $30 in energy costs over the life of each bulb," said Jennifer Binkley-Power, director of Northern Options.

Northern Options recently joined the ENERGY STAR Change a Light, Change the World campaign after receiving more than $800,000 from the State of Michigan and $100,000 from the Michigan Public Service Commission. These funds are used to offset the higher cost of CFLs, which ranges from $3 to $10.

"The higher initial price of CFLs relative to incandescent light bulbs is often the main barrier to consumers," Binkley-Power said. "That's what is so great about this campaign, it allows Michigan consumers to purchase energy efficient CFLs at an incredible discount."

She added that households use less energy with CFLs, which means the level of greenhouse gas emissions is reduced.

"Electricity production from coal fired power plants is the main source of mercury emissions in the U.S.," Binkley-Power said. "By using CFLs we can actually reduce the amount of mercury in the environment, given our power is generated by coal."

Because the bulbs contain a minimal amount of mercury themselves, they need to be recycled appropriately, Binkley-Power said. For more information, contact the Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority at 249-4125.

"With this program we hope to continue the market transformation of energy efficient products," Binkley-Power said. "Hopefully, when these bulbs burn out we will all be buying LEDs (light emitting diodes) at a reasonable price from our local hardware store."

More than 450,000 discounted CFLs will be on sale until Nov. 30. Specialty CFLs such as three-way, dimmable, globe and other bulbs will also be discounted. Kroger and Meijer will also be offering discounted CFLs.



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