LED Lighting: When and How to Make the Swap for Your Business
The buzz about the energy- and cost-saving benefits of LED technology is justified. With all that can be gained by converting to LED lighting, very little stands in the way of your business benefiting from the switch. A lack of information and concerns over initial costs may be the only thing holding you back.
- An LED light bulb or fixture uses 75 to 80 percent less energy than a conventional incandescent light, saving users on energy bills.
- LED lights emit much less heat than incandescent and fluorescent lights, reducing demand on air conditioning.
- LED lights do not require a "warm-up time" to reach full brightness like fluorescents do.
- Unlike fluorescent lights, turning an LED off and on has no effect on its lifespan.
- An LED will last 3 to 25 times longer than other types of bulbs, reducing purchase and maintenance costs.
- LEDs can be directional, dimmable, and come in various colors and qualities of light, allowing more freedom to creatively light a space.
- Lighting can account for 17 percent of a commercial building's total energy consumption. Switching to LED may mitigate some of this cost.
- The durability and reliability of LED lights make them an excellent choice for emergency lighting, parking lots, and walkways.
Over time, LED lighting dramatically saves money over incandescent and fluorescent lighting, especially when connected to large-scale linear lighting system in commercial buildings.
Although early LEDs were expensive and had a reputation as unreliable, they are now on the cutting edge of technology, and are constantly becoming more efficient. Haitz’s law describes the curve of LED’s technological progress, stating that the cost per lumen (measure of amount of light) will fall by a factor of 10 every ten years, while the amount of light that an LED generates will increase by a factor of 20. Put simply, LED lighting is getting cheaper and better all the time.
The big picture for energy savings is even more dramatic when applied nationwide. The US Department of Energy estimates that Americans could save $2.6 billion in energy costs by switching from CFL downlights to LED equivalents. For general lighting, switching to LEDs in 2016 saved Americans about $4.7 billion in energy, but the savings would have been close to $44 billion if a full switch to LED had occurred.
If LED adoption is widespread in the United States by 2027, the Department of Energy estimates that Americans could save the equivalent of 44 large-scale electric power plants’ annual output, which is about $30 billion at today’s energy prices.
Calculating Your Potential Savings
LED lights and fixtures do, in fact, cost more than other lights; but the savings of using a more efficient light will cover those initial costs over time. ENERGY STAR has developed an Excel calculator that you can download and use to calculate the costs based on location, type and number of existing lights, and proposed replacement lights.
Take a moment with the calculator above to consider the capital expense of converting to LED and compare it to the difference between the operating expense of your old lighting and the operating expense of new LED lighting. Most likely, the capital expense of LED will pay for itself in a short amount of time, then start saving you money.
Using LEDs in Existing Fixtures
One easy way to switch to LED is to gradually retrofit your old lights as they wear out. Nearly every type of light bulb has a modern LED equivalent, including the common linear fluorescent lamp “tubes” in your ceiling fixtures. Replacing them is as simple as removing the old light and twisting a new LED model in its place.
Recycling Old Lights
The EPA recommends recycling CFLs and fluorescent tubes rather than throwing them in the trash. As you replace them, recycle all light bulbs to avoid the release of mercury and allow the metals and glass to be recycled. Light bulb recycling drop-offs can be found at many home improvement stores. If you need help finding additional lightbulb drop off locations, read the EPA’s entry on the subject "How and Where can I Recycle CFLs?"