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Cutting Energy and Raising Efficiency: Analyzing LEDs

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Monday, May 19, 2014

052014 ledsBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Every year we waste over 57% of the energy we import or generate in the form of leaks and unused heat. As energy costs continue to rise small increases in the cost per kWh can mean hundreds more on your energy bill. Switching to more efficient and durable lights, like LED lighting, will reduce energy consumption, increase the lifetime of your lighting, and reduce your environmental impact so your property can run smoother, simpler and brighter.   

Longevity:

Longevity is the first category to explore when comparing lighting methods. In a test reported in the 2011 Energy Efficiency Annual Report by the New England Gas Company, the Phillips Ambient LED 12.5 watt A19 indoor bulb, a common LED light, was tested against the CFL GE Energy Smart 13 watt bulb. The bulbs were comparable in efficiency, but the LED lasted 17,000 hours longer than the CFL. You would need three CLF bulbs to match the longevity of the 25,000 hour lifetime of the LED. When factoring in replacement cost, which can mean hiring a professional at $30-$60 an hour, the CFL become is much more costly. Amazingly, LEDs range from 25,000 hrs. – 90,000 hours in lifetime.

Energy Savings:

Let’s take a large department store, which uses 300 250 watt halide high-bay fixtures. In one hour this store will use 75,000 watts on these lights. If these were replaced with 400 24 watt LED high bays, the store would use 10,000 watts in that hour. If they are on 14 hours a day, with a cost of $0.10/watt the store would be saving $32,000 on energy every year.  LEDs are 80% efficient, which means they convert more energy into light. In addition a value boost is possible. In a 200,000-square foot office building that pays $2 per square foot in energy costs, a 10% reduction in energy consumption could be an additional $40,000 of NOI. At a cap rate of 8% this could mean an asset value boost of $500,000. Also, because less heat is generated, HVAC systems don’t have to compensate for the heat from lights and have more power to combat the 90 degree summers.

Lighting is Better and Brighter

Despite the environmental argument lighting quality is still critical. Quality is determined by the color temperature, measured in kelvins, and the color rendering index (CRI), which indicates how accurately the light renders colors. These are important because color temperature changes based on the application, i.e. retail lighting, kitchen lighting, etc. CRI determines if colors will appear correctly to humans. LED lights have an advantage because they are adjustable and can be manufactured for specific color temperature. Each lighting application needs different intensity and temperature to create an atmosphere or to improve safety and visibility.

Tax and Government Incentives:

There are a number of programs offering incentives for making important lighting upgrades. Lightingtaxdeductions.com and Energy Trust of Oregon’s Lighting Incentives Sheet show how to supplement costs either upfront or through tax deductions. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 provided energy efficient commercial buildings a tax reduction for lighting systems that exceeded minimum standards (Energy Policy Act Tax Deduction Information). Each of these programs are very specific, depending on the type of building, the lighting applications, and the costs they will cover, but they are incredibly helpful is getting your project off the ground despite high costs.  

Environmental  Plus:

Many light bulbs contain harmful chemicals like mercury and lead. Sophisticated recycling techniques are needed to make sure these metals don’t enter our water ways. LED bulbs contain no mercury and aren’t considered a hazardous product, making them easier to recycle.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration 70% of the nation’s electricity is generated through coal or natural gas. Energy efficient lighting will reduce our need for these environmentally harmful energy sources. In Oregon our power is generated through hydro-electric and natural gas, with some of slack picked up by Coal and Biomass.

Conclusion

For commercial owners, LED lighting upgrades improve your property in many ways. LEDs are comprehensively more energy and cost effective than comparable lighting, saving on cost, energy consumption, and maintenance, while also reducing stress on other operations. The cost of labor would be reduced while the savings can increase the value of your asset. Lighting that’s up to the highest efficiency standards will be a great selling point for potential tenants, who are looking to save on energy costs. Time is running out to take advantage of the programs and rebates that will make your LED transition easier. However, whether your retrofit happens today or in a year LED lights are still the best all-around lighting value and just may be the brightest idea for improving your property.


 

Cliff Hockley, is prresident of Bluestone & Hockley Real Estate Services,

 

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