It’s the Lighting, Stupid

Forgive me for poaching from the 1992 phase 'It's the Economy, Stupid' made popular by political strategist, James Carville. During Bill Clinton's 1992 successful Presidential campaign, he referred to the notion that Clinton was a better choice than Bush because Bush had not adequately addressed the economy which had undergone a recession.

My point in using that phrase has absolutely nothing to do with politics. It does have to do with the fact that we do have a better choice in commercial indoor and outdoor lighting options. Our better choice contributes positively towards countering the negative effects of our present economic condition. What sane person among us does not want to reduce their monthly electrical bill by 30% to 50%? The conundrum is that we are all working so hard to increase our sales revenue that we sometimes forget we can improve our margins by simply reducing our operating expenses. What's the old saying about not seeing the forest for the trees?

In these challenging economic times, many Companies have seen the light (sorry but I couldn't resist the pun). Replacing and / or retrofitting indoor and outdoor light fixtures will substantially lower energy costs. In most cases, the pay-back is less than 24 months. After the pay-back period, 100% of the savings is realized year after year. In fact, the monthly savings will usually cover the monthly note if you were to finance a project of this nature.

Whether your reason for updating your indoor and / or outdoor lighting systems is because your company is going green or you would like to save money by consuming less energy, there are many investment options available which would contribute towards an expeditious ROI. Some of these options are listed below.

• Replace parking garage HID fixtures with Fluorescents.
• Replace incandescent fixture bulbs with CFL Fluorescents.
• Retrofit or replace existing outdated fluorescent fixtures with Energy Efficient Fixtures.
• Replace parking-lot HID pole-mounted fixtures with Outdoor Pole-mounted Fluorescents.
• Replace existing wall switches in offices, store-rooms, etc. with Occupancy Sensor Switches & Dimmers.
• Install Ceiling Occupancy Sensors in common areas such as hallways, gyms, cafeterias, meeting rooms, etc.
• Replace exterior building mounted HID wall-pack fixtures with Fluorescent Wall-pack Fixtures with 40% reduced energy consumption when no one is around-but instantly comes back up to full brightness if anyone enters the area.

Compare the Before & After scenarios below with the basic understanding that Energy Consumption (kWh) = Input Watts (kW) X Time (hours operated in a given year) X your utility company cost per kWh.

Office Environment – An example of a Before – Fluorescent Light Fixture and an After – Retrofit / Replacement:

Note: For the sake of being conservative, we are not going to include additional wattage consumed by the fluorescent ballast (s), which can be as high as 10%, nor will we include the additional cost of cooling the emitted heat from the before light fixture.

Before — 2 X 4, 4-Lamp T-12 Fixture — 160 Watts (Note – T-12s will no longer be manufactured after 2010)

After —- 2 X 4, 2-Lamp T-8 Fixture — 72 Watts

Difference in Fixtures — 88 Watts X 4500 Annual Burn Hours X $ .10 per KWH = Annual Savings of $ 39.60 / Fixture / Year X _____ # of Fixtures in your facility.

The advancement in Fluorescent Lighting in the last few years has been stellar. In warehouse facilities, the new fixtures of choice are F-Bay T-5 HO & T-8 Fluorescents. These fixtures are manufactured to replace the High-Bay HID (High Intensity Discharge) fixtures which were the cutting edge technology of the '80s &' 90s. The new fixtures use approximately ½ of the energy of the HIDs while holding their CRI (Color Rendition Index) for a much longer period of time.

Warehouse / Manufacturing Environment – An example of a Before – HID High-Bay Fixture and an After – F-Bay Fluorescent Fixture below: Note: The savings below is based on a 24-hour a day operation. You can adjust the hours of operating to suit your situation.

Before — 400-Watt Metal Halide HID High-Bay Fixture — 455 Watts

After — 6-Lamp T8 Fixture — 218 Watts

Difference in Fixtures — 237 Watts X 6500 Annual Burn Hours X $ .10 per KWH = Annual Savings of $ 154.05 / Fixture / Year X _____ # of Fixtures in your facility.

As you can see from both of the examples above, the savings can be huge depending on the size and the hours of operation at your facility.

Did you know?

• Better light CRI (Color Rendition Index) will Increase Employee Productivity.
• Your Utility Company may offer Rebates and you may be eligible for Tax Credits when retro-fitting and / or upgrading your lights.
• Retro-fitting or upgrading your indoor lights will Reduce Heat Output which Lowers Air Conditioning Costs.
• Upgrading the lighting in your facility should contribute to an Increase in Property Value if you decide to sell.
• There are Outdoor Fluorescent Fixtures available to replace Pole-mounted HIDs in your parking lot. These Fluorescents Consume ½ the Energy of your HIDs with Double the Lamp Life.
• HID fixtures lose a large percentage of their light output annually while continuing to consume the same amount of energy. In essence, you are paying more for consistently less light year after year.
• Upgrading or retro-fitting your lights will also Lower your Maintenance Costs. Fluorescent lamps have a longer lamp life. See the table below.
• In most cases, the energy savings realized by retro-fitting or upgrading your lights will pay for the finance cost of the new lights. The result is that there is no interruption to your cash-flow or additional out-of-pocket expense.

Lamp / Bulb Life Comparisons

60 Watt Incandescent Bulb – 1,000 Hours – T-5 4 'HO Fluorescent Lamp – 20,000 Hours
400 Watt Metal Halide HID Bulb – 10,000 Hours – T-8 4 'Fluorescent Lamp – 24,000 Hours
18 Watt Twin CFL Lamp – 12,000 Hours

There are some basic lighting terms that you need to know when communicating about lighting. The simple definitions of a few of these terms are:

• Foot-Candle — A measure of light intensity. A foot-candle is defined as how bright the light is 1-foot away from the light source. Foot Candles = Lumens / Sq Ft.
• Lumen — Is equal to one foot-candle falling on one square foot of area. Each lamp packaging lists the amount of lumens for that lamp. As lamps and fixtures age and become dirty, their lumen output decreases (lumen depreciation occurs).
• Photometrics — Spread of light in foot-candles over a specific area outward / down from the light source. The further away from the light source, the lower the foot-candles.
• CRI (Color Rendition Index) — Describes how a light source makes the color of an object appear to human eyes and how well subtle variations in color shades are revealed. The higher the CRI, the better the color rendering ability.
• Kelvin — The kelvin is a measurement of heat energy or temperature. It measures the 'Hue' of light. 'Hue' in this technical meaning refers not just to color generally, but to the relative warmth of a specific light source-its spectrum frequency or color temperature.

Large Corporations have realized and implemented these Cost Saving Strategies for years, whereas smaller companies have been behind the curve in recognizing the benefits of retrofitting and / or upgrading their lighting. However, between the challenging economy and the recent advances in lighting technology, the cost savings can no longer be ignored by smaller businesses. An analogy would be that most people would walk past a penny or even a nickel and not bend over to pick it up (I would bend over to pick up a farthing if they were still available), but not many people would walk past a quarter or a dollar bill without feeling some degree of guilt. Every time you walk under or past your outdated interior or exterior lights, think about the amount of money which could go directly to improving your bottom line.

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