by Pam Zubeck
There's not much free in this world any more, so this is a deal you can't pass up.
Now and for as long as they last, Colorado Springs Utilities is offering to exchange incandescent light bulbs for the more energy-efficient compact fluorescent ones.
"It will go until we run out of CFLs," says Utilities spokesman Steve Berry. "We have thousands of them. The more people take advantage of it, the better."
Indeed, not only do CFLs save energy, they save money in a couple of ways.
First, they cut down on your monthly electric bill. An incandescent bulb lasts about 1,000 hours, compared to 10,000 hours for a CFL. Total cost to operate an incandescent bulb for 10,000 is $52, compared to $16 for a CFL, Berry says.
"Replacing the five most used lights in your house can save $70 a year on your electric bill," Berry says.
Second, cutting down on power usage helps the city delay construction of a new power plant, thereby reduging the demand on fossil fuels and easing pressure from regulatory standards.
"That benefits us, which in turn benefits the customer, because it means lower rates," Berry says. "Even renewable projects, a solar array, or a windfarm, the permitting costs can be pretty expensive." Not to mention construction costs.
In addition to all that, incandescent bulbs will be phased out of the market starting in January. So you might as well cash in on a freebie by going to Utilities' Conservation and Environmental Center at 2855 Mesa Road, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and exchange your old-fashioned bulbs for CFLs. They're available in equivalents of 40, 60 and 75 watts.
No coupon is necessary, and Utilities will hand out the bulbs until they're gone.
The only hitch is that the bulbs are available for Springs Utilities customers only. Therefore, customers should bring their trade-in bulbs and their most recent electric utilities bill with them.