Clayton County Foundation for the Future supports LED bulb swap stations

The Clayton County Energy District is working to encourage clean, affordable and efficient energy in communities across the county through programs like home energy assessments, educational events and LED bulb swaps. 

The Clayton County Foundation for the Future, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, helped by providing a $1,000 grant to the energy district supporting a permanent bulb swap station at the Clayton County Food Shelf and the establishment of mobile LED bulb swap stations. At swap stations, residents trade incandescent bulbs from their homes for LED bulbs at no cost. 

“We view the mission of energy districts as a strong companion strategy to our mission of strengthening communities through wealth retention from growing endowments,” said M.J. Smith, director of affiliate foundations at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. “‘Green meets green,’ the energy district tagline, means that individuals, families, businesses and organizations can save money while also stewarding our natural resources. Energy districts serve income-eligible seniors, veterans and disabled individuals first with energy assessment planning and coaching.” 

The grant will help the Clayton County Energy District meet its goal of distributing 5,000 LED bulbs purchased from retailers within the county. Because LED bulbs require 75 times less energy than incandescent bulbs, these free swap stations could generate $28,000 in annual energy savings for homeowners — dollars which can then be spent locally. Swapping 5,000 bulbs will also lead to a 326 metric ton reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of nearly 40 homes’ total energy use for one year. 

The swap station at the Food Shelf is up and running. Households that receive services from the Food Shelf are each invited to swap 10 bulbs. “If every household that participated took all 10 bulbs and put them immediately into use, each household would save $850 on its power bill over the lifetime of those bulbs,” said Joleen Jansen, Clayton County Energy District coordinator. 

The energy district devotes much of its resources to community education. For example, while presenting about the bulb swap project to the Clayton County Foundation for the Future advisory board, Jansen explained how solar power works using a solar panel connected to a small fan. “The biggest advantage of energy districts is the education they provide, from answering questions about rebates to raising awareness of available programs,” said Andy Reimer, president of the Foundation. “The swap station at the food shelf saves low-income families dollars on energy costs, and it’s good for the environment — why wouldn’t we support that?”

“Communities are embracing the beauty of our ‘green meets green’ philosophy,” said Jansen, who also coaches energy district startups on behalf of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. “Everyone loves the win-win scenario of emitting less carbon, which is good for the planet, and saving money on a utility bill, which certainly benefits the local economy.”