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Lighting the good light

By: Lauren Weber, The Press-Tribune
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Years ago, the lighting industry had a bright idea – compact fluorescent light bulbs with advantages that outnumber those of traditional incandescent light bulbs. With the onset of ways to be green, people are bombarded with ways to decrease their environmental impact and even the city of Roseville is getting into the act. With Roseville Electric’s rebate program for CFL users, the city is encouraging the use of these earth-friendly bulbs and until June 30, residents can get back almost the entire price of the bulb just by giving them a try. “We think this is a great opportunity for the folks that haven’t tried it,” said Vonette McCauley, public relations manager for Roseville Electric. “It’s a great way to introduce people to them.” The spiraled bulbs use up to 60 percent less energy, emit less heat and save consumers money – about $30 in electricity costs over the bulb’s lifetime. In addition, the life of the bulb is a lot longer than traditional lights, McCauley said. With the growth of specialty bulbs, CFLs can be used in ceiling fans, table lamps, dimmers, outdoor lighting and wall sconces, providing people with no excuse not to give them a try. McCauley said sometimes objections to the compact fluorescent bulbs include their cost, even though they last about 10 times longer, unfamiliarity with the bulbs and the mercury found inside CFLs. But McCauley said what some people may not know is that the mercury inside one CFL averages the size of a ballpoint pen tip and the mercury is sealed within the bulb’s glass tube. It’s not released through use, but can be released into the air if the bulbs reach the landfill. Therefore, CFLs must be disposed of properly, which is as easy as a telephone call for Roseville residents. “You don’t even have to take it anywhere,” McCauley said of the city’s free and hassle-free pick-up program. By calling the Environmental Utilities Department at 774-5780 and making an appointment, someone from the city will pick up used bulbs among other hazardous material accepted, and properly dispose of them. “There’s a state regulation that specifically prohibits CFLs from being thrown away in just residential trash,” said Sean Bigley, administrative analyst for environmental utilities with the city of Roseville. For the pick-up program, residents must be sensitive to the fact that they’re made of glass and therefore susceptible to breakage, Bigley said. He advises residents to place the bulbs by the front door for pick-up instead of curbside. Because of the mercury within CFLs, if the bulb breaks, there are precautions that need to be taken such as ventilating the room and avoiding the use of brooms and vacuums. For information on clean up procedures, visit www.epa.gov/mercury/spills. Because of the limited time allowed for the rebate program, Roseville Electric officials encourage residents to act now. In order to qualify for the rebate program, an Energy Star-rated CFL must be purchased for $12 or more for a rebate of $10 per coupon, per purchase and per household. A rebate form must be filled out and mailed with the original receipt and Energy Star label from the packaging and a credit will be applied to the homeowners’ utility bill. For more information on the CFL rebate program go to www.roseville.ca.us/cfl. The Energy Star Web site encourages CFL use stating that if every home in the U.S. replaced one light bulb with an Energy Star rated bulb, the amount of energy saved would equal the energy it takes to light more than three million homes for a year – building a greener place to live one light bulb at a time.