Utilities companies use guide to help customers with light choices

Published 9:22 am Wednesday, April 30, 2014

More than 90 electric utilities, including Austin Utilities, are helping customers understand new lighting options with customized versions of the “Right Light Guide,” a two-page document that uses graphics to educate people about the brightness and color of bulbs.

“I’m looking forward to sharing the new guide with our member utilities and their customers,” said the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency’s John O’Neil in a press release.

The “Right Light Guide” lets customers compare the pros, cons and costs associated with using compact fluorescent light (CFL) and light emitting diode (LED) bulbs against incandescent bulbs. Switching to energy-efficient bulbs, for instance, can save 85 percent in costs when electricity cost, bulb cost, and replacement cost are taken into account.

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“Who’d think that picking out a light bulb could be so overwhelming?” said St. Paul resident Cari Michaels in a press release. “I have to reeducate myself each time I head out to the store for a new bulb. The Right Light Guide helped me make sense of all the details.”

Lighting accounts for 5 to 10 percent of total energy use in the average American home and costs $50 to $150 per year in electricity. That might not sound like a huge amount, but multiplied by the more than two million households in Minnesota, it adds up fast.

Due to federal legislation and vast improvements made by the lighting industry, people now have many more choices when they walk down the lighting aisle. In the last two years, CFL bulbs have become more reliable and CFL bulb costs are nearly as low as incandescent bulbs. In the same two years, LED technology has advanced significantly and LED light bulb prices have dropped four-fold. But all of these changes have not made the decision-making process any easier.

“We want Minnesotans to know they can light their homes with the same amount of light for less money,” said Alexis Troschinetz of the Clean Energy Resource Teams in a press release. “We know there are a lot of lighting choices out there today, and we know it can be confusing, so we based our ‘Right Light Guide’ on what consumers said they needed to know and the questions they had about the different bulbs.”

In the past two years, thousands of Minnesotans have used the “Right Light Guide” to make smart lighting choices. A newly updated guide will reach even more consumers.

“I find the ‘Right Light Guide’ to be a very useful tool for our customers,” said Dave Opsahl of Willmar Public Utilities in a press release. “It makes my job easier and I appreciate that.”

A free copy of the “Right Light Guide” can be downloaded at www.austinutilities.com/files/pdf/2012%20CERTs_RightLightGuide_Austin.pdf.  
Another version is available at  www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/lighting/guide.