Light bulb exchange is bright idea


Published: Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 12:36 a.m.

An additional 100 or so Alachua County homes now have energy-efficient lighting, thanks to a community light bulb exchange held Saturday at Westside Recreation Center.

The exchange was supposed to last for four hours, but the organization running it ran out of its 2,000 compact fluorescent bulbs in a little more than an hour and a half because of an unexpected high demand.

The compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) were exchanged for 2,000 regular light bulbs in an event co-sponsored by the International Carbon Bank and Exchange Inc. of Gainesville, the University of Florida's Office of Sustainability and Gainesville Regional Utilities.

Residents were able to exchange regular light bulbs for CFLs for 75 cents per CFL - at least half of their typical retail cost. Some brought one light bulb. Others exchanged as many as 30.

"[The CFL] has 60 watts of brightness but only 14 watts of energy consumption," explained Mark van Soestbergen of the International Carbon Bank and Exchange. It uses one-fourth the amount of energy as a regular bulb, he said.

The purpose of the event was to "raise awareness and increase participation in energy efficiency," said van Soestbergen. "CFLs reduce greenhouse gas by 1,000 pounds per CFL over their lifetime."

Van Soestbergen works for the Carbon Bank and Exchange, a Gainesville company that tracks greenhouse gas reductions through an online platform.

Doug Klepper, a Santa Fe Community College history professor, also helped at the exchange.

"I believe the environment is a significant issue for us," Klepper said.

As for Saturday's exchange, "we underestimated the demand," Klepper said as he spoke to residents disappointed to find all the CFLs had been given out.

Some residents explained how they had unscrewed every light bulb in their home to exchange them for the discount-priced CFLs.

One CFL normally retails for about $3.75. They are cheaper when bought in packs of six for about $9.

Jessica DiMuzio, a Gainesville resident, arrived at the light bulb exchange about 12:30 p.m. only to find the CFLs had run out more than 30 minutes earlier.

She brought three old bulbs to exchange - the last three in her house that weren't energy-efficient, she said.

"Whenever [CFLs] first started, I went out and bought them," she said.

DiMuzio said her decision to be energy-conscious is not political but very personal.

She said she has cut back on water usage and checked her home for any waste of electricity.

"I keep a cold house in the winter time," she said. She doesn't mind being a little cold to save energy, she said.

If you missed out on Saturday's bulb exchange, another is planned for Feb. 23 at Westside Park.

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