He Xin, 65, a pensioner living in Beijing's Jianguomen area, is fitting compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in all her rooms after receiving five 1-yuan (14.6 U.S. cents) CFLs from her neighborhood committee.
"A CFL costs more than a traditional fluorescent bulb, but it lasts much longer and saves a lot of energy," He says.
The government-subsidized program allows each urban household in Beijing to buy five CFLs for 1 yuan, 10 percent of the wholesale price. Additional CFLs can be bought for 40 percent of the shop price.
"The program raises awareness of energy conservation and environmental protection. We can all help stop climate change," says He.
The Beijing government aimed to sell 5 million 1-yuan CFLs from June 15 till the Olympics, with an estimated 50 million yuan in subsidies.
The energy conservation and environmental protection center under the Municipal Development and Reform Commission (BMDRC) says the 3.6 million CFLs intended for 477 communities in Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chongwen and Xuanwu districts are sold out, and distribution of the remaining 1.4 million for institutional users is under way.
Yang Zhihui, head of the BMDRC environment and resources utilization division, says the 5 million CFLs could save 200 million KW/h of power a year and around 120 million yuan in electricity bills.
The government subsidies would be recovered in six months, Yang says.
More importantly, 84,000 tons of coal could be saved and carbon dioxide emissions cut by 226,200 tons every year. It would also lead to an annual cut of 6,200 tons in sulfur dioxide emissions, 61,700 tons in carbon dust and 3,100 tons in nitrogen oxide, all helping to improve air quality in the capital, says Lin Wenjie, another official with the division.
The CFL program is a national effort to increase energy-efficient light bulb use by 50 million a year, as part of the government's nationwide campaign for energy conservation and emissions reduction.
On Saturday, the State Council, or Cabinet, released a circular to promote the campaign. Major measures include:
-- activities to simulate energy shortages to enhance awareness of energy conservation;
-- one day off the roads each week for official vehicles;
-- air conditioner temperature limits in public buildings -- a minimum of 26 degrees Celsius in summer and no higher than 20 degrees in winter;
-- reduced use of elevators and escalators;
-- controls on street and landscape lamps;
-- promoting the use of reusable shopping bags and discouraging the use of disposable products;
-- relaxations of work dress codes to allow cooler clothing in summer.