Proof That LED Upgrades Make Dollar Sense|
Article- July 2011 By Larson Electronics.com
Larson Electronics HiBay LED Light Fixture
With most states and local governments tightening their belts in this time of economic weakness, finding ways to improve infrastructure and services has become nearly impossible. Funding for new projects has either been reduced to a standstill or requires extremely compelling evidence to justify its allocation. Despite the severity of current economic conditions, there still remain some opportunities that have led to the occasional success stories as not only are improvements made possible, but money saved as well. This is an unusual occurrence in any economic climate because as we know, most forms of bureaucracy are anything but efficient, which makes such stories all the more impressive when they appear now.
One area where such success is occurring with increasing regularity is commercial and public lighting projects. With the advent of practical LED lighting has come a great deal of potential to not only improve the quality of the light illuminating our streets, businesses and schools, but to save money almost immediately after installation as well. Across the US, city and local governments are taking advantage of federal grants and incentives to offset the initial costs associated with installing new lighting fixtures. On a local level, schools and businesses are finding great opportunities to improve lighting through state grants and programs aimed at encouraging energy efficient practices through equipment hardware upgrades.
In Illinois for example, School District 211 took advantage of state offered grants and rebates and upgraded the exterior lighting at James B. Conant High School with LED equipped fixtures. Requiring a great deal less energy to operate, these fixtures are expected to save the school up to $500 dollars monthly in lighting expenses. Even better, by taking advantage of state incentives, the school district ended up paying only 10% of the installation cost, which will allow the new LED lighting fixtures to begin providing returns in energy savings in very short order. The savings potential here is so great, that even with extreme scrutiny and reluctance to spend on new projects, the school board simply could not ignore the savings potential such an opportunity presented. Not only was the initial cost outlay reduced by 90% with state grants and rebates, and energy costs significantly reduced, but maintenance costs are also projected to be reduced as well since the LEDs will not require replacement for years. In contrast, the previous traditional lighting fixtures required regular maintenance and frequent lamp replacements, which added significantly to annual operating costs as well.
More and more, such cases are appearing with growing regularity as it becomes increasingly clear just how much savings potential such LED upgrades offer. In Doylestown, Pennsylvania, the popular restaurant chain Applebees reduced lighting expenses by 88% with the installation LED lighting equipment. The cities of Madison, Wisconsin and St. Paul, Minnesota retrofitted all of their traffic signals with LEDs and now enjoy a savings of $360,000 annually. The city of New York retrofitted 18,000 red traffic signals in Queens and now reaps approximate energy savings of $325,000, and $372,000 in maintenance cost reductions. In Sacramento and Sand Diego California alone, a state notorious for its energy costs and shortages, LED upgrades have saved 70 million kWh per year. These are just a small number of the results that are now establishing LED lighting projects as reliable and cost effective upgrades that will save significant amounts of money over the long term.
Although as recently as 10 years ago LEDs were hardly considered a reliable replacement for the incandescent bulb due to light quality and production cost concerns, LED technology has now reached a point where initial cost is one of the only factors continuing to concern most consumers. The quality of light produced by LEDs has been improved greatly and can now be tailored to match the output from almost any other form of lighting available. Efficiency, which has always been excellent, has been improved as well. Initial costs are steadily declining as demand for LED equipped fixtures increases, and long term cost effectiveness is already being established as we noted earlier. There are few areas of technological advancement where improvements and growth are occurring so rapidly as in LED development. In less than 5 years, companies like CREE have developed LEDs surpassing 100 lumens per watt, and now offer commercially available LEDs that average 90 lumens per watt. Considering that 5 years ago, an average of 90 lumens per watt was considered difficult to achieve, and that traditional incandescent lamps after 150 years in existence rarely surpass 25 lumens per watt, this is incredible advancement indeed.
It is this sort of advancement which has spurred so much incentive for the federal and local governments to enact programs aimed at encouraging the application of LED technology. On the federal level, the US government offers tax rebates, credits and incentives for homeowners who switch to energy efficient appliances and practices. Private and local offers include Energy Start which encourages sales tax exemptions or credits, or rebates on qualified products through its partners. Utility companies, energy producers and equipment manufacturers are all also offering rebates and credits for customers who switch to qualifying products, greatly reducing the initial outlay and costs associated with upgrading. Quality made LED products like Larson Electronics’s High Bay LED Light Fixture in most cases easily qualify for these incentives and offer businesses and industry the ability to make across the board improvements in lighting while at the same time slashing energy costs.
In order to reap the full benefit of upgrading to LEDs, whether you are a homeowner, business, or city government, it’s usually only a matter of checking with utilities, state and federal agencies to find how these incentives can apply to you. No matter the location, chances are good that there will be at least several opportunities that will make switching to LEDs not only cheaper initially, but help to produce a very quick return on investment. While no one can guarantee energy cost reductions of 90% and rebates of 90% as well, it is entirely possible that with a little investigating and planning, cost effective improvements are possible.