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Energy act boosts Iowa City business's eco-image

BY DEREK KELLISON | FEBRUARY 29, 2012 6:30 AM

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Local business owners are slowly saying goodbye the old-fashioned 100-watt light bulbs following new rules reducing their use — but locals say they're glad to make the switch to more energy-efficient bulbs.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which went into effect Jan. 1, required businesses and manufacturers nationwide to phase out selling and manufacturing the older 100-watt incandescent light bulbs. Seventy-five- and 60-watt bulbs will eventually be phased out by 2014.

The act requires manufacturers to produce new, energy-efficient bulbs in place of the old-fashioned incandescent ones.

"The new halogen bulbs are 25 percent more efficient, they let off less heat, and the gases used in the bulbs are take less energy to light," said Dave McCammant, energy efficiency product manager for MidAmerican Energy.

Though the new bulbs tend to be brighter and more expensive, Jerry Meis, the owner of the Iowa City-area Lenoch & Cilek Ace Hardware said consumers have supported the change.

"People in Iowa City are really environmentally aware," he said, noting that Ace stores have been selling compact fluorescent bulbs since several year prior to the 2007 law.

Customers said they agreed the new bulbs are a good long-term choice despite occasional problems with over-brightness and slow turn-on times.

"They're more energy-efficient, so they're supposed to save money," said Chris Allara, a University of Iowa student whose fraternity shops for its light bulbs at Menards.

Energy-efficient plans have led consumers and manufacturers toward other new bulbs as well, McCammant said. Compact fluorescent light bulbs and light-emitting diodes — the conductor in a light bulb — use 75 percent less energy than the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs.

John Hooton, a sales representative for Artemide, an appliance store in Dubuque, said businesses now try to cater to customers who keep energy efficiency in mind. The store sells appliances with the new bulbs in them.

"I've seen increased interest [in efficient light bulbs], more clients are asking about them," Hooton said.

Rebecca Whitaker, an affiliate partner for the FIRST program, a nonprofit organization that sells LED light bulbs, said a switch to non-halogens would have many positive affects.

"LEDs are the way to go," she said. "They have less energy cost, and they don't emit gasses, like halogen light bulbs when they're broken."

Meis said businesses should help consumers with light-bulb choices by going beyond just complying — selling additional compact fluorescent bulbs and light-emitting diodes, for example.

"Somehow, we have to conserve more in this country," he said.


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