Keeping the Lights On - The LED Lighting Upgrade

Beyond realizing when the lights go out, most people don't even consider the lights in their workplace. But 'keeping the lights on' in a business is a phrase that holds more weight than you might think. In a typical office setting, lighting is one of the dominant utility expenses in the commercial market. Second only to heating and cooling expenses, commercial lighting accounts for as much as 30% of the utility bill. 

But these statistics are changing quickly. Enter the LED (Light Emitting Diode). At this point none of us are strangers to the acronym and we may have formed some misconceptions. We all thought we had to evacuate our homes for 24 hours after breaking a CFL bulb and now we have become leery of the LED for one thing - the $$$ price tag. Just like the DVD player you paid $300 for in 1999 that is now replaced with a new unit for $50; the LED is now cheaper and better than it was just a year ago. And just like the extinction of the VHS tape soon too we will reminisce fondly upon the days when we used Edison 'originals.' Heck, they already make an LED knock-off. At some point here in the near future the stock pile of disastrously inefficient lights no longer being manufactured will run out and the option of whether you want to start saving money today or start tomorrow will cease to exist. 

Let's look at an example of the financials. Let's assume the place where we punch the clock is burning a very popular 1990's Watt hog, the T12 fluorescent lamp (think of a light saber on steroids). It's not uncommon to find 4 of these lamps per fixture, each humming along at 40W a piece. Factor in the ballast (a device that helps the lamps start up and maintain current) and we are looking 1 light that uses about 144W per hour. Let assume our office has 100 lights and we are following the trend of the typical American and working at lease 10 hours/day. This puts us at about $4,100 a year. Upgrade to an LED and we are looking at a total fixture wattage of 40W and an annual bull of about $1,100. Makes sense? 

Right now a commercial customer within the Dominion Power territory can take advantage of a rebate program which in most cases saves the customer about 30% of the cost to upgrade.  Leveraging this rebate in the example above the business owner will recoup the investment of the lighting upgrade in about 3 years. Financing is available for energy efficiency upgrades that allow for the business to be cash positive from day one of the installation. Rebate funds are limited and so is the supply of lamps that are no longer in production so don't wait to upgrade.