A bright idea

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Ray Hirschmugl is on a crusade to get every apartment complex in Carson City to switch to fluorescent light bulbs.

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Ray Hirschmugl is on a crusade to get every apartment complex in Carson City to switch to fluorescent light bulbs.

Ideas for inventions used to flash so often in Ray Hirschmugl's head he said he thought he might have had a disease.

He won't talk about most of the ideas because he doesn't want people to steal them. One of them he would mention was a cheap nondisposable hemp grocery bag.

But lately, convincing people to replace their incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent light bulbs is almost all he's been able to think about.

"The light bulb really is obsessing me," he said.

An environmental message delivered by former Vice President Al Gore "shouting about how the world was going to go down" as well as the falling price of fluorescent bulbs made him start his campaign.

Fluorescent lights use about a third of the energy of incandescent lights and last about 10 times longer, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

Hirschmugl, a 43-year-old maintenance worker, changed the bulbs in his apartment about a year and a half ago and, after that, he convinced the manager of his apartment complex, Imperial Apartments, to change all 63 outdoor bulbs.

The incandescent lights had to be changed almost every week, said Richard Lee Austere, the apartment manager, but he hasn't had to change one fluorescent bulb the three months they've been up.

"They're only 14-watt bulbs," he said, "but the lighting is magnificent."

Hirschmugl, who runs Baroque Maintenance Service, then sent letters to apartment complexes around Carson City explaining how replacing the bulbs would eventually save them money.

"Since there are so many apartment complexes in the country burning so many thousands of light bulbs and changing these lights would not cost but save money, the apartment industry should take the lead in this endeavor," the letter said.

"Baroque Maintenance Service will be at your service should you need us."

Hirschmugl is "irked" that no one has called him yet, though some apartments had already switched.

Shenandoah Villas wanted to save energy and replaced the incandescent bulbs two years ago, according to Manager Jean Arnold.

"Our main office is really in to green," she said.

Some complexes in Carson City have no plans to switch, but Hirschmugl hopes Gov. Jim Gibbons will help him change that. He said people will pay more attention to a letter from the governor than a letter from him.

Dan Burns, a representative for Gibbons, said he isn't sure if the governor has seen the letter yet, but called the idea of switching bulbs to save energy "sensational."

"From the governor's office, that's a terrific idea," he said. "If people can afford it, they should do it."

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.


According to the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing an incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR certified fluorescent light bulb:

• Saves at least $30 during the life of the bulb

• Uses about 75 percent less energy and last about 10 times longer

• Produces about 75 percent less heat

For more information:





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