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Avista mailing out energy-saving bulbs

Avista Utilities has begun mailing 350,000 kits with eight compact fluorescent bulbs to residential customers in Washington and Idaho.

The effort is part of Avista’s goal to encourage customers to use less electricity, company spokeswoman Debbie Simock said.

Simock said the kits should reach all customers by the end of November.

It’s costing Avista roughly $7.5 million to buy, package and mail the kits.

The money for that project comes from a monthly energy-efficiency surcharge Avista collects from its customers. Washington customers pay $3.79 per month for an average of 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Idaho customers pay $2.58 per month for an average of 1,000 kilowatt-hours.

If all residential customers replace eight standard, less-efficient light bulbs in their homes, the result will be a reduction of nearly 90,000 megawatt-hours of electricity over the next 12 months, Simock said.

Of that, Simock estimated about 57,000 megawatt-hours would be saved by Washington residential customers and the rest by those in Idaho.

The average Washington residential home uses about 12,000 kilowatt-hours per year. Idaho customers use on average 11,470 kilowatt-hours per year, according to Avista.

Over a typical seven-year life span of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), the bulbs should save Washington residential customers $93 and Idaho customers $104 on average, she added.

The bulbs provide the equivalent of 60, 75 and 100 watts.

CFLs last usually seven times longer than standard bulbs and use 75 percent less energy.

The goal of conserving energy also is required by a 2006 voter-approved Washington law that requires utilities with more than 25,000 customers to set targets for energy savings.

Avista’s 2010-’11 energy conservation target is 128,600 megawatt-hours from Washington residential and business customers. To help reach that target, Avista also is emphasizing energy rebates and energy saving incentives for residents and businesses.