Updated: Jul 17, 2018
Of all the various existing schemes to cut energy consumption, by far the simplest measure to successfully install is the upgrading of the current lighting systems. In our homes, this represents a fairly easy (careful on the ladders) way to cut lighting energy by up to 70%.
Most utilities are offering nice incentives on LED and other efficient lighting products, some even available as an instant rebate right at the till. Bring home your new lamps, unscrew the old 40w, 60w and 100w incandescent lamps and replace with 10W or less LED lamps and, viola! A sizable savings for you for the next 10-15 years (the average life of LED lamps).
You see, the cost of lighting a space is the function of only three variables.
The first, duty cycle, is how many hours a day/month/year you have that lamp energized. This tends to be fairly constant in most lamps.
The second is the wattage consumed by your lamp. In this case, the savings are absolute. If you replace a 60W lamp with a 9W LED then you have eliminated 51W from your household energy.
The last variable is the cost of energy, generally expressed in kWh or kilowatt hours – simply the cost per 1000W per hour.
This too is fairly constant although the kWh rate tends to go up with inflation or when the utilities successfully lobby the Public Utilities Commission for a rate increase. Therefore, in the above example of 51W saved, if the duty cycle was 10 hours a day the monthly savings would be 15,300 watt hours (51W x 10 hours x 30 days) or more commonly described as 15.3 kWh. These 15.3 kWh at $0.10/kWh rate would save the homeowner $1.53 for each lamp each month.
Count the lamps in your house to get an idea of the savings you can achieve.
In the commercial space the opportunity is much larger due simply to the long duty cycles and quantity of lights.
In an office environment, florescent troffers dominate the ceilings. Typically using 3 or 4 32W T8 florescent tubes, the opportunity to vastly reduce energy consumption is there for the taking. The savings for these building owners are immediately measured in an approximate 60% reduction on the next month’s energy bill but also in vastly reduced maintenance costs. A typical T8 florescent lamp has a life of roughly 20,000 hours. In a typical commercial office application that results in about a 5 year life. If you continue the analysis, one can surmise that one in five lamps will fail each year requiring maintenance staff to hunt for these failed lamps or wait for tenants to ring the operations team. The life on the typical solid state lamp is 50,000 hours providing significant operations savings on both the labor but also on no longer having to stock lamps.
As the cost of electric energy continues to climb, there will be an increased demand for the development of these lighting projects. Most projects we develop show a healthy rate of return as an investment (25% IRR – higher than most our customers IRR in their core business) and as building owners and managers get comfortable with the product and the growing number of successfully implemented projects, the adoption rate will climb.