Change a Light, Change the World (CAL) was MEEA's first efficiency program, starting with eight sponsors and a $340,000 budget in 2000. It was launched in collaboration with the National ENERGY STAR® Change a Light campaign. Serving as a platform for cooperation between national, regional and local ENERGY STAR partners, Change a Light saved significant amounts of energy and delivered a coordinated public message on the benefits of ENERGY STAR qualified lighting products. The program grew to involve more than a dozen sponsors in three states, with sponsor and manufacturer contributions over the years totaling more than $8 million. CAL was a large-scale campaign to educate consumers on the value of compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, which increase energy efficiency, using 75% less energy usage than conventional incandescent bulbs. With each CFL saving an average of $30 or more over the lifetime of the bulb, consumers can see drastic energy and cost savings by swapping out their most used incandescents with CFLs.
MEEA's regional campaign educated retailers on the economic and environmental benefits of CFLs, and offered consumers an incentive to purchase ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs at a significantly reduced price point, competitive to that of a standard incandescent light bulb. A full marketing campaign, including advertising, bill inserts, and in-store point of purchase materials, increased awareness among consumers and educated them on the multiple benefits of switching to CFLs. Manufacturers and retailers also participated and increased the cost effectiveness of the program by contributing direct and in-kind support. Different promotions were personalized for each sponsor including instant rebate coupons, mark downs and buy down approaches. High-visibility marketing promotions enhanced the campaign, including cooperative advertising, large newspaper advertising, in-store marketing, press releases, and press events.
CAL provided great benefits to both sponsors and consumers, and saw expansion over the years because partners achieved significant economies of scale by participating. Sponsors with limited budgets benefited from the program because CFLs are lower in cost compared to other ENERGY STAR qualified products, allowing for increased customer participation.
Impacts of Change a Light
MEEA has achieved significant energy savings through CAL, and has rebated over 3.8 million CFLs and fluorescent lamps. This is an energy savings of:
208.1 million kWh of electricity saved annually;
1.4 billion kWh of electricity saved over the lifetime of the lights;
and over the lifetime of the lights will avoid:
4.1 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions;
over 10,000 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions;
over 18,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions.
CAL was extremely cost effective because of MEEA's regional approach. While the program was personalized for each sponsor, our ability to aggregate the dollars and standardize the design attracted manufacturers and retailers, and increased willingness to provide maximum support to the program. MEEA’s early efforts to spread CFL incentives programs throughout the Midwest helped our regional partners to develop programs of their own, and now CFL incentives are a mainstay across our footprint.
MEEA's Change A Light, Change the World Program Reports 2001-2008
CFLs and Mercury
CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, a toxic metal that should be kept out of the environment. A typical CFL contains less than 5 mg of mercury, an amount which would fit on the tip of a ballpoint pen. An oral thermometer, by contrast, has between 500 and 1,000 mg of mercury.
The current generation of CFLs often contain as little as 1 mg of mercury, and the target for mercury content has been reduced under the new ENERGY STAR CFL specifications. Even when accounting for a CFL’s inherent mercury content, the amount of potential mercury exposure is still about half the amount released into the environment by an incandescent bulb powered by fossil fuel-burning power plants.
While CFLs may be accepted by some municipal landfills, MEEA recommends that CFLs be taken to a hazardous waste collection center at the end of their life. Increasingly, retailers such as The Home Depot and IKEA have begun to accept CFLs for free recycling. Please contact your local waste management service for recycling options and disposal guidelines, or visit www.lamprecycle.org to learn more about CFL recycling.You may also want to visit www.earth911.org or www.epa.gov/bulbrecyclingto search for recycling centers in your area.
To learn about the proper way to dispose of a broken CFL, please visit www.epa.gov/mercury/spills/index.htm#flourescent.
For information about MEEA's lighting efforts, please contact Aimee Skrzekut at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312.673.2480.