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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 20, 2008

After saving energy, recycle intact CFLs

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Columnist

Video: HECO shows safer disposal of CFL bulbs
StoryChat: Comment on this story
Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Blaine Cacho of Hawaiian Electric shows how to recycle a used compact fluorescent light bulb using a special kit. The mercury in the bulbs can be toxic if broken.

DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaiian Electric is giving away 1,000 Recyclepaks used to recycle CFL bulbs at two O'ahu locations while supplies last: 900 Richards St. (7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and 820 Ward Ave. (7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.) To buy a kit, which can cost $20, including all shipping and recycling fees, go to www.prepaidrecycling.com or call 888-669-9725. For more information from HECO about this promotion, call 543-7511 or go to www.heco.com

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With household bills on the rise food, gas and sewer among them the utilities themselves are ramping up cost-cutting efforts. Toward that end, Hawaiian Electric Co. yesterday launched a promotion aimed at encouraging both energy conservation and recycling.

The company yesterday began giving away 1,000 recycling kits to consumers to use to mail used compact fluorescent lights to the Mainland for recycling, rather than dumping them in the rubbish.

"This is a limited promotion that's intended to get the ball rolling on CFL recycling on O'ahu," said Robert Alm, Hawaiian Electric executive vice president for public affairs.

"Lighting is one of the biggest uses (of electricity) in Hawai'i," he said.

The Environmental Protection Agency has ruled that residents can dispose CFLs in Hawai'i "household trash." But environmentally conscious consumers worried about the small amount of mercury in the bulbs about 5 mg per bulb have said they would prefer to see the energy-efficient bulbs recycled rather than end up in an incinerator or landfill, Alm said.

The company has been pushing customers to use the CFL bulbs for years, offering coupons and other incentives to help save energy. Through its rebate program, the company said it has tracked an increase from 140,000 CFLs sold in 2006 to five times that 700,000 last year, Alm said.

O'ahu residential customers who pick up the free kits may pack their spent unbroken CFLs in the kits and drop them off at a U.S. Post Office or give them to a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier. All shipping and recycling costs have been prepaid by Hawaiian Electric.

The packages then go to a specialized recycling center in Phoenix where the materials are recycled.

Alm said no Hawai'i company currently offers that kind of recycling.

Each recycling kit can hold six to eight regular size CFLs or 10-12 mini or specialty CFLs. HECO spokesman Darren Pai suggests putting the box in a closet to safely store the lights as they burn out. Since those bulbs burn out less often than incandescent bulbs, he said it's likely you'll have that box in the closet for several years.

The service became available in Hawai'i recently after Veolia Environmental Services, a Mainland-based recycling company, reached an agreement last year with the U.S. Postal Service that will allow the CFL kits to be shipped through the mail from Hawai'i.

The kits cannot be used by businesses which are required to follow state and federal environmental regulations for disposal of universal waste, Alm said.

CFLs are energy efficient light bulbs, using one-fourth the energy of an equivalent incandescent bulb.

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Top 10 energy-saving tips

1. Light with compact fluorescent: Changing just one 100-watt bulb to an equivalent 26-watt CFL, based on three hours use per day, can save 81 kWh and up to $20 per year per bulb.

2. Use fans instead of air conditioners: Two fans, rather than an 8,000 BTU room air conditioner running four hours a day, can save over 1,150 kWh and $288 a year.

3. Shorten showers: Cutting just two minutes per shower could save up to 1,533 kWh and $383 per year.

4. Fix leaky faucets: A faucet leaking just one hot water drop per second costs 400 kWh and $100 per year.

5. Wash clothes in cold water: Switching from hot wash/warm rinse to the cold/cold cycle on a standard, top-loading washing machine for just two loads a week can save 225 kWh and $56 per year.

6. Eliminate energy sneakers (phantom load): Use a power strip to conveniently turn off computers (after properly logging off), camera battery chargers and cellular phone chargers, which all use standby power when not in use. Using a power strip to turn off your computer can save 50 kWh and $13 per year.

7. Air dry dishes: Letting dishes air dry instead of using heated drying on the average dishwasher saves 110 kWh and $28 per year.

8. No peeking: Limiting how often and how long you open the refrigerator will save electricity and protect the appliance. Also limit opening the oven while cooking or baking to save electricity, protect the appliance and speed up cooking times, too.

9. Install motion/occupancy detectors indoors and out: Cutting use of a 150-watt, outdoor flood light from six hours to one hour per night with a motion sensor saves up to 270 kWh and $68 per year. Switching off a 100-watt light for one eight-hour day per week, can save 41 kWh and more than $10 per year.

10. Use Energy Star® appliances: When it is time to replace or add appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR symbol on refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers, as well as DVD and VCR players, televisions and home office equipment. Visit www.EnergyStar.gov to learn more.

Source: Hawaiian Electric Co.

Reach Robbie Dingeman at rdingeman@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2429.

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