One of the improvements we're making to the space involves the lighting. Currently, the building has 17 flood lights inside on track lighting for its lighting. These lights are on dimmers, but they are all 100 watt halogens or 150 watt bulbs, and will be sucking our electricity like tiny little vampires whether they are dim or not. Enter the compact CFL. Fluorescent lights in the 21st century are gentler on the eyes and contain half as mercury as they used to (they still do contain mercury, however, so please make sure they are safely recycled at the end of their average 8000-hr life-span to keep mercury out drinking water). Compact CFLs generally use 75% less energy than their incandescent relatives, which can make a tremendous impact on your energy bill, especially in areas like workshops or retail stores where you need to keep the lights bright and shining all the time.
The first step in switching to CFLs at my store involves installing new light switches (6 to be exact), because although you can buy dimmable CFLs these days, they are still very expensive, usually twice the cost of a non-dimmable CFL. When you're talking about 17 CFL flood lights indoors, and two outdoors, that really can add up. So we are updating the 1970-era dimmer switches to regular light switches ($0.99 per switch, and $0.75 for the face plates.)
Next, we need new bulbs. I looked at all the stores around here and the bulbs run about $5 apiece. I looked online and found much of the same, until I found a small company nearby in Ohio that produces and recycles CFLs, and whose mission statement is to help America switch to CFLs painlessly. There, I can buy the bulbs I need in bulk for $3.19 apiece, and shipping is very reasonable. They even package their bulbs in recycled packaging instead of the massive plastic bubbles most companies use.
We're also going to use 100% green energy at the store, an option provided by our CT power company, CL&P. Through their website it's a simple process to sign up to use 50% or 100% renewable energy from Community Energy, wind power supplier. That is what we use at home, and I love how it makes me feel. For just a small surcharge on my bill (usually about $5) I get to know that we are helping edge America along into a new, green era.