Free, more efficient, light bulbs given out in Peoria Heights

Brian Feldt

Let there be light. At least, free and more efficient light.

In partnership with State Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, and the Ameren Rate Relief Program, Richwoods Township offered 200 free energy saving light bulbs to low-income residents Monday.

The compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) — Energy Star NHST13 13-watt bulbs — are expected to help diminish electric bills of its users by using 75 percent less energy than the standard incandescent bulb.

Irene Norbits, 79, of Peoria Heights, said she has used CFL bulbs in her kitchen for years and was eager to pick up some extra one’s for her basement.

"I have bought some (CFLs) and I need a lot more," she said. "They work real well and I am very happy with them. I haven’t really noticed a drop (in the electric bill) but I am sure it will over time."

Each 13-watt bulb puts out as much light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb and is supposed to last up to 10 times longer.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a single CFL should save a person $30 or more in electricity costs over a its lifetime. While the average cost of a CFL bulb is more than the price of an incandescent, it is designed to pay for itself over time.

A household that invested $90 to change 30 fixtures to CFLs would save $440 to $1,500 over CFL’s lifetime, according to a 2007 U.S. News & World Report article.

Michael Phelan, a supervisor at Richwood Township, said he was hoping the event would help around 50 people, with four bulbs given to each resident who signed up.

"(The CFLs) are an extensive bulb and they also save energy, so you save money on the front end and the back end," he said. "We have a lot of people in need in our community and whenever we can get a hold of something, whether it be free blood pressure screening or free light bulbs, that is where we come into play and try to pass it along to the people in need."

Phelan said any extra bulbs would most likely be given to area homeless shelters or rescue missions.

New legislation passed in December 2007 will phase out incandescent light bulbs and set efficiency standards for light bulbs across the country, making CFLs the go-to product.

Incandescent light bulbs will begin to be phased out in 2012 and are expected to be off the market by 2014.

Brian Feldt can be reached at 686-3194 or