And Chicago said, “Let there be light."

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Huzzah! The city of Chicago announced on March 13 that it will be giving away 500,000 energy-efficient light bulbs. This marks the launch of the Smart Bulb Program. Beginning in April, bulbs will be provided in locations throughout the city, including the Chicago’s Department of Environment and aldermen’s offices.

During its lifetime, one bulb can save as much as $30, and mass use of such illuminators can take stress off the Northeastern Illinois electric grid.

Officials from the Northern Illinois Energy Project say they will be giving away another 500,000 light bulbs in suburban Cook County.

Don't forget to bring your old compact fluorescent bulbs to the Household Chemical and Computer Recycling Center for recycling!

Whew! I just called 311 where a nice woman informed me that light bulbs are available right now at 30 N. LaSalle (City Hall) and 445 N. Sacramento (Center for Green Technology). On March 22nd, they will be available at your local alderman’s office.

To Marilyn’s comment—the Chicago operator only knew that these were fluorescent bulbs, but full spectrum compact fluorescent spiral bulbs have been known to assuage eye fatigue and even combat seasonal affective disorder (seasonal affective disorder). Also, fluorescent bulbs outlast up to 13 incandescent or halogen bulbs. Pick up a free bulb and try out for yourself. You can’t lose with free…unless someone was giving away guinea worms. That’s a lose/lose right there.


So where exactly is the lightbulb giving taking place? Is there a list somewhere that I have missed?

Posted by: BC on March 16, 2007 8:28 PM

I believe these are fluorescent bulbs, which are a major source of eye fatigue. I'm not trading my incandescent bulbs for these, and would pay for halogens before I got these.

Posted by: Marilyn on March 17, 2007 7:41 AM

I couldn't find anything on the free bulbs. However Illinois is sponsoring the sale of $1 CFbulbs via Jewel and BigLots in alot of suburban area's.

Even if you buy in 5 bulb lots you normally cannot touch these bulbs for less than $2 each. Individually they are usually $3-5

They are not for use everywhere, but price is right to try them.

Posted by: Jeff R on March 19, 2007 9:35 AM

For what it's worth, I was informed by our residential program manager, who runs our CFL programs including our participation in NIEP, that in fact "light bulb" is not the right term. The "L" in CFL is for "lamp" which is the correct term.

Check the dictionary...a bulb is in fact a subset of lamps, specifically one with a (typically) tungsten filament that generates light through incandescence.

Now we all know that little bit of trivia.

And as to Marilyn's comment, the days of the 60 Hz flicker of old skool fluorescent tubes is long past. Major improvements have been made in CFLs over the past few years as the market has picked up on them. Steady light, better spectrum, quicker response, the list could go on and on. I have without difficulty or eye strain switched in my home to CFLs for all non-dimming applications (since standard CFLs are not dimmable and dimmable CFLs are still at too high of a price point) and couldn't be happier. I would suggest you go to your alderman's office and pick one up to try...and if you don't like it, I'm sure you can find somebody who will use it!

Posted by: Gregory Ehrendreich on April 3, 2007 9:18 AM

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