LED Light Bulb Exchange Program Expands

November 2023

Howard County residents can now visit any Howard County Library System (HCLS) branch location to exchange used incandescent and CFL light bulbs for new, energy efficient LED light bulbs courtesy of an expanded partnership between HCLS and the Howard County Office of Community Sustainability (OCS).

The expanded partnership between OCS and HCLS offers Howard County residents a more convenient LED exchange that encourages energy efficiency along with proper disposal of old lightbulbs throughout Howard County.

County residents can visit any library branch’s circulation desk to exchange their used CFL or incandescent light bulb for a free, new LED light bulb (an A19 bulb shape). All types of bulb shapes, with the exception of tube lights, will be accepted for exchange. A maximum of four LED light bulbs may be exchanged for old bulbs, while supplies last.

Since its initial offering at the East Columbia and Elkridge library branches beginning in February 2023, the program has given away more than two thousand LED light bulbs in exchange for nearly one thousand CFLs and nearly five hundred incandescent bulbs.

LED, or light-emitting diode, light bulbs have about a 10-year lifespan and are up to 80 percent more efficient than conventional light bulbs. In addition to the energy savings benefits of LEDs, this program provides a safe means of disposal for CFL light bulbs. Due to the CFL bulbs containing mercury, they cannot be disposed of with household trash. If a CFL bulb breaks, it is recommended to wear gloves, seal the bulb in a heavy-duty plastic bag and clean the surrounding area. The Alpha Ridge Landfill also accepts CFL bulbs on Saturdays from April to November, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The LED light bulb exchange program began as a 2022 GreenFest initiative. Due to the success of the event, which distributed more than five hundred LEDs, OCS planned additional exchanges at various locations in the County. These included local businesses, community events and County facilities. OCS staff also mentors students in the Youth Climate Institute and has assisted them in creating several lightbulb exchange events.