Friday, May 22, 2009

A light goes on

Toronto Hydro is giving away free compact fluorescent lightbulbs this weekend and next. The first 350 people to show up at a participating Canadian Tire or Home Depot will get one. According to the flyer, they're "specialty" CFLs, rather than the usual garden variety.

This is good. Many fixtures don't take standard CFLs, and these "specialty" bulbs are designed for chandeliers, vanities and other such non-standard fixtures. There will also be in-store discounts on specialty CFLs and power bars with timers.

A power bar with a timer is a great idea, especially if you're one of those people who always forgets to turn off the lights. Or plug in televisions and other equipment that goes into a "standby" mode rather than turning off completely. By shutting the power off to these appliances you'll cut down on your house's phantom draw. That is, you'll cut the power that's consumed invisibly by appliances you thought you'd actually turned off. Phantom draw from one appliance may not be big, but it adds up. If we got rid of unnecessary phantom draw, we might not need our tax dollars funding a new nuclear plant or our energy dollars going to buy more coal.

So, while I'm not big on promoting big companies like Home Depot or Canadian Tire (though I must confess that I've long enjoyed browsing the latter), if you live near one and are planning on getting up for a morning walk on Saturday or Sunday, go in and pick up a nice new CFL. A list of participating stores, and details about the promotion, are on Toronto Hydro's "Spring Turn On" website.

If you're not in the Toronto area, check with your local utility. Are they doing something similar? If they are, please post the information in the comments section to share it with others. Green Tenant enjoys having readers from around the world (mostly from Canada, the U.S. and the UK, but we're also getting lots of visitors from Central and South America and from Australia), and I'd love to know what's happening where you live.

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