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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Time to ditch the flickering fluorescents

Author: Guest Writer/Saturday, October 20, 2012/Categories: Uncategorized

Remember those bluish fluorescent tubes that illuminated your childhood classrooms and, until recently, most supermarkets and big-box stores? These flickering lights have been giving Americans headaches for some 70 years, but they’re going the way of 8-track tapes and lead paint.


This is not a market-based transition, but a government-mandated “phase-out.” In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy decided that so-called T12 magnetic-ballast fixtures and bulbs were outdated and inefficient. So U.S. manufacturers stopped making the fixtures in 2010 and were expected to halt all production of T12 bulbs in July of this year.

 If you still have these clunky systems in your home or business, you’re not prohibited from using them, but soon you’ll be unable to find replacement bulbs or equipment. Bottom line: It’s time to ditch the flickering fossils.

 Fortunately, the government recognized that the T12 phase-out would cost people money, so the feds dedicated money to support consumers’ transition to better technologies. Across the country in conservation-minded communities that have competed for the federal dollars, rebates are available to customers who upgrade to newer T8 or T5 systems, which consume 30-40 percent less power. In some places, rebates can cover up to 80 percent of a homeowner’s or business owner’s cost.

 For example, Xcel Energy, which supplies electricity to millions of customers in the Rocky Mountains and the Midwest, is still offering rebates. If you’re still fighting those T12 headaches and want to make a switch, then check the nationwide database or contact your electric utility and see if they can help.

- Bob Ward

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