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New lights, timers save energy at Prospect UCC

Bob Bakke

Bob Bakke shows lighting options. Photo courtesy of Meighan Pritchard

Qualifying for small business energy rebates of Seattle City Light, Prospect UCC last summer had a representative survey the building to suggest lights to upgrade or replace.

Bob Bakke, a trustee, the church’s sexton and a retired electrical engineer, walked through the building with him. Trustees received three bids and accepted the lowest.

Meighan Pritchard, pastor, is pleased her congregation has done the retrofits to increase efficiency. She expects upgrades should pay for themselves in a year and a half.

Looking at the budget when she started as pastor part-time, she knew the church could save by doing retrofits, as University Congregational UCC had done, when she attended there.
She connected Bakke with UCUCC member and lighting specialist Stephen Jones. They made a spreadsheet of all Prospect’s lights, showing wattage, estimating hours of usage and charting potential savings in electricity and money.

Then it took two weeks to receive approval of their application for a rebate for the $3,000 cost of new lighting. The city paid 80 percent, so Prospect UCC paid just $600.

Most fixtures were two- to four-lamp fluorescent lights. The magnetic ballasts in them were replaced with electronic ballasts, and T-12 lamps replaced with smaller, more efficient T-8 lamps, Bakke said.

In the fellowship hall, lights were converted from four-lamp to two-lamp fixtures with new reflectors to produce the same amount of light. They added two four-foot, two-lamp fixtures and installed fluorescent outdoor lighting on the porch.

Bakke, who designed many lighting systems before retiring in 1990, has been involved at Prospect UCC for 20 years. Commuting from Seattle to Auburn for work, he said he was unable to be involved in a church until retiring.

Living a block from Prospect, he’s the first responder if something goes wrong at the church.
Bakke has also installed timers on some of the lighting systems, including photo controls on two outdoor post lamps. He has installed compact fluorescent lights in fixtures around the church.

“We have eliminated all but a few incandescent lights,” he said.

He also helped the church change to its heating system of six furnaces with each heating different areas of the church. He programmed the furnaces so members can turn them on when they come, and they automatically turn off, saving use in frequently used areas.

Bakke has also set up some lights on timers to turn off automatically in case people forget.

“I want to contribute as I can, so can work on the electrical system and feel I can accomplish something,” he said.

As part of Prospects ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship, the church recently raised $1,100 for two environmental groups— and Earth Ministry—with an April 5 “Climate Change Blues and Jazz” Concert.

For information, call 206-325-5583 or email

Copyright © April-May 2013 Pacific Northwest Conference United Church News


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