"Green" bulbs can lower your bills

Tom Hines
Special for The Republic

Photo of Tom Himes, Manager, Arizona Public ServiceThese days, it seems that everyone is striving to “live green.” With so many options, it may be hard to know where to begin. You can make big changes, like driving a hybrid vehicle or installing solar panels on your home, but you can also start with simple changes, like refilling your own water bottle or using cloth bags at the grocery store.

The good news is that one small change can lead to lower energy bills, as well as have a positive impact on the environment. Just start with one light – one compact fluorescent lightbulb, or CFL.

To help customers make the switch to energy-efficient CFLs, Arizona Public Service Co. has partnered with retailers to offer its customers reduced prices on a selection of Energy Star qualified CFLs. These discounts make the price of the bulbs – which can last up to seven years - more comparable to incandescent bulbs.

Photo of the different styles of CFL bulbs, left to right - twist and A-line; second row, left to right - reflector and globe.For homeowners and the environment, the benefits of CFLs are many. They use up to 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, which over the lifetime of the bulb can save you up to $30 in lighting costs. Multiply these savings by the many bulbs in your home, and you can see the savings add up.

Lower cooling costs are also associated with CFLs, since they give off 75% less heat. Less energy use at home helps reduce carbon emissions from power plants.

All Energy Star qualified CFLs start instantly and reach full brightness within a minute. Many styles are available, including the unique “twist,” plus globes, reflectors and more traditional a-line styles.

CFL style
LumensCFL (watts)
Living room
table lamp
A-line or twist6080013-15
Bathroom vanityGlobe4045011
Kitchen ceiling
Family room
recessed lights
Outdoor flood lightPAR38 reflector1001,60025

Getting started with CFLs at home is simple. First, identify the areas where lights are on the most (where you have the most opportunity for savings) – usually the kitchen-ceiling light, living-room table lamps, bathroom vanities, or outdoor lights.

Second, determine how much light, or lumens, you need. A 60-watt incandescent puts out about 800 lumens of light, the same as a 15-watt CFL.

Finally, think about the style. Reflectors are ideal for recessed cans, globes are great for bathroom vanities and a-lines are perfect where the bulb extends beyond the fixture. If the fixture is a 3-way, or on a dimmer switch, look for CFLs rated “3-way” or “dimmable.”

Lately, concerns have been raised over the amount of mercury in CFLs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of mercury in one CFL is about 5 milligrams, an amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen.

However, no mercury is released while the bulb is in use, and manufacturers are taking steps to further reduce the amount of mercury in their products. In addition, APS is working with local retailers to provide convenient sites where you can drop off used CFLS for recycling.

For more information on CFL discounts, participating retailers, and proper disposal and recycling options, visit www.aps.com.

Tom Hines manages the residential energy-efficiency programs at APS, the largest and longest-serving electricity utility in Arizona.

This article is one in a series of articles contributed by Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability. The Institute advances interdisciplinary research and education on environmental, economic and social sustainability.

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