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Arizona Public Service hit a milestone recently: it has now been a direct participant in the sales of 17 million CFL light bulbs.

APS achieved the mark through its' residential energy efficient lighting program, which uses promotions at retailers that offers instant discount on CFL bulbs.

"We estimate that a typical CFL will save about $40 in energy costs over the life of that bulb," said Tom Hines, Energy Efficiency Program Manager for APS. "When you multiply that by about 17 million light bulbs that are out there through our program, it's a really huge energy savings."

APS estimated the bulbs are saving about 900 million kilowatts of energy every year, enough to meet the energy needs of 75,000 average households. Hines said, while sales of CFL's are going well, there's been some misinformation that conventional light bulbs are becoming a thing of the past.

"There is a new federal lighting standard that requires that light bulbs meet a higher efficiency rating," he said. "It's similar to a miles per gallon rating for a car. That does not mean that traditional incandescent bulbs are going away. Manufacturers are working to make the bulbs more efficient."

Hines said consumers can still get incandescent bulbs in your local home improvement store.

CFL bulbs are filled with toxic mercury. Despite that, Hones said that once a bulb is used up, it's OK to throw it away.

"They are completely able to be disposed of in regular household waste," he said. "It is completely OK for customers to dispose of them that way, we just encourage customers to recycle them. We think that's a better approach."

Hines said that APS collects the used bulbs for free at local stores, then makes sure the entire bulb gets recycled.

Bob McClay, Reporter

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