Take Charge! shows savings


January 27, 2011 - 12:00 AM

When it comes to energy efficiency, changing light bulbs is a simple switch that anyone can do. Replacing incandescent bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs doesn’t take a large investment in money or time. And, it can help Iola win $100,000 from the Kansas Department of Energy.
Friday and Saturday, the Iola Area Chamber of Commerce EXPO will feature a booth by the Iola Take Charge Challenge where anyone within the 66749 zip code can trade in up to five incandescent bulbs for five CFLs.
Energy star rated CFLs use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than incandescents, according to Challenge literature. Savings can amount to as much as 20 percent of one’s annual power bill. On average, replacing the five most frequently used lights in a home with CFLs saves $70 a year.
Because incandescents produce heat along with light, switching to CFLs can also help lower a home’s summer cooling costs.
Although some resist replacing the bulbs, the change is coming.
In 2007, former President George W. Bush signed a law requiring that new bulbs must use 30 percent less energy than extant incandescents. The changes are being phased in, starting this year, by discontinuing production of standard 100 watt incandescent bulbs. Through 2014, bulbs will be phased out, from highest to lowest watts. Specialty incandescents — such as refrigerator lights — and those under 40 watts are exempt.
Although they light instantly, CFLs do take about five minutes to reach full glow.
They also contain trace amounts of mercury and must be disposed of accordingly. See the Take Charge Challenge booth for more information.

TO MAXIMIZE energy savings, replace highest use fixtures first — those that are on more than two hours a day. Porch lights, kitchens and living rooms are examples.
Other energy-saving lighting options exist as well.
LEDs — light-emitting diodes — are small, bright cool bulbs common in nightlights and flashlights. Now they are available on outdoor floodlights and interior lighting, too.
LEDs save money, electricity and time — LEDs last about 50,000 hours compared to about 2,500 hours for halogen bulbs.
While LED technology has been around for years, its use in industrial and home lighting is new, said Theresa Jesseph, a sales rep from Stanion Wholesale Electric of Chanute.
Differences are great, though, when it comes to energy consumption.
A 20-watt LED wallpack (outdoor business lighting) is comparable to a 175 watt metal halide lamp. Savings amount to $145, or 166 watts, per year.
“In Greenbush,” she said, “the entire town has LED street lighting.”
Because the technology is new, costs are still a little pricey, Jesseph said, although can lights are available for home use from retailers such as Home Depot and Walmart.
In a couple years, though, as it becomes more common, the lights will likely replace even fluorescents for efficiency, she noted.
A practical alternative, especially for businesses and industry, is to convert from standard T-12 fluorescent tubes to newer, narrower T-8 and T-5 lights, Jesseph said.
The new bulbs use an electronic ballast, or control switch, rather than magnetic ballast, as the old bulbs do. The technology makes them more efficient, therefore cheaper to run. Best, Jesseph said, is that by merely replacing the ballasts, the new bulbs can be used in old fixtures, minimizing upgrade costs.
Iola’s Gates Rubber Company and the now-shuttered Haldex Manufacturing plant both upgraded to the new lighting, as did the city’s shop building.
At Haldex, Jesseph said, savings were so great that replacement costs were recouped in nine months’ time.

ANOTHER energy savings tip, offered by Suzanne Krone of Iola’s Hoffmeier Electric, is to use sensor switches on a home or business’s lights. The switches can be set to turn off lights after a certain period of time in rooms when no motion is detected.
To save even more, use natural light when possible or utilize spot lighting in a home.
The more Iolans who switch, the closer the city is to beating Parsons, Pittsburg, Fort Scott and Chanute for the $100,000 grant.
Be sure, after changing out your bulbs, to sign in online at takechargekansas.org, or sign up at the Take Charge Challenge booth at the EXPO.

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