Something as mundane as light bulbs can have a big effect on school districts like Arlington Heights Elementary District 25.
After replacing 900 light fixtures over the winter holiday, the district is half way though exchanging about 4,000 fixtures that use a fluorescent bulb called T-12. Federal regulations mean the bulbs will no longer be manufactured in the United States by July, said Dutch Schultz, energy manager.
Replacing the fixtures was budgeted at $600,000, but bids have come in lower, he said.
The good news for District 25 is that it has received grants totaling $195,000 that went mostly for this job and that it plans to get $152,000 more in outside funding. The funds come from a tax on Illinois utility bills designed to help public bodies replace fixtures.
The district also hopes to quickly pay for its share of the cost through reduced electricity bills, said Schultz.
Immediate energy savings can be up to 50 percent along with improved lighting performance, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Development, which administers the grants that can go to any public body.
"It will be very difficult to buy T-12 lights after July," said Schultz. "There will be some in stock, but eventually they will be phased out for more efficient lights unless it's changed by Congress."
Congress recently decided the government will not spend money this year enforcing a ban on 100-watt incandescent bulbs, but their manufacture is still being phased out.