Light-Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs are the most efficient light option on the market, and energy companies are making them more affordable for residential and commercial clients. The market cost can seem prohibitive for business owners with hundreds of bulbs to convert, despite the fact that LED lights last much longer and use significantly less energy. In 2019, 10.4% of electricity costs in the U.S. came from lighting our businesses.1 This figure has been trending downward from 38% in 2003 for commercial buildings2.
For some time now, energy companies have realized that overall energy usage would only continue to grow if users didn’t take precautions to save on energy. One way they set out to achieve this was by encouraging more LED lighting which uses “75% less energy and lasts 25x longer than incandescent lighting”3.
Rebate savings and incentives offered by the energy companies
Most energy companies across the country, including those in Michigan, are underwriting the cost of LED lights (and other energy saving measures) to help slow down the need to build costly energy plants, burn more coal, or maintain aging generators. Programs include interior and exterior lighting for businesses. It is beneficial to check with your energy company to find out what they’re offering and what qualifies for rebates.
I consulted with Standard Electric’s Lighting and Energy Program Specialist, Chelsea Wisniewski, who helps their clients with energy rebate applications. Chelsea said, “Most of these programs are actively providing large incentives at this time. We don’t know how long they’ll last. The incentives could decrease or go away eventually depending on program budgets, goals, and ever changing building codes. Clients should take advantage of these programs as soon as possible so they can receive enhanced incentives for the materials they are purchasing.”
Wolgast has been a Business Solution Trade Ally with Consumers Energy since 2013. We’ve helped our clients save money, including the largest amount for one School District that received over $125,000 to help offset the money they invested in a new heat-conserving roof, energy-efficient lightbulbs and other energy saving renovations they made to their buildings. This School District also gets to reap the benefits of future energy savings from these products, but also decreased bulb replacement costs. While schools have a large footprint and use a lot of bulbs to light their building that is used vastly throughout the day, Chelsea said, “the average dollar amount saved usually depends on how many items and what items a client is purchasing. Rebates change from anything as low as $5.50 instant savings on each bulb to possibly thousands of dollars through a prescriptive rebate”, or one that is customized for the client. She also said that it’s best to find out if your energy company has a specialist to help with the prescriptive application to make the process smoother and more efficient.
Hot Topics for Energy Saving Lighting Products or Programs
Right now, there is a “huge incentive for purchasing DLC approved exterior lighting”, according to Chelsea. You can receive “70 cents per watt reduced”. DLC stands for Design Lights Consortium and provides a list of products prequalified for energy efficiency standards. Also Chelsea shared that currently, K-12 schools that make outdoor lighting upgrades, “can account for up to 88% of product cost”.
Additionally, I spoke with Steve Ferrier of Gasser Bush, a lighting and controls company, about what is hot right now in lighting products for commercial use. He said that “OLED is newer technology available in light fixtures.” Also known as Organic Light Emitting Diode, it is the same light that illuminates your cell phone. The panels are flexible and emit beautiful light with great resolution. The down side is the OLED light is very costly, there are no rebates at this time, and also it burns faster than LED, so replacement costs will be higher. They could be useful in a luxury, display lighting situation.
In closing, if you haven’t done so already, look at your energy company’s website to find out more about their incentives and other cost saving ideas to start reducing your energy costs, today for your home or business. Or if you have any questions about lighting your building or any other energy saving ideas, feel free to contact us for guidance going forward. We have LEED Certified professionals on staff to help, too.
If you’ve found this information valuable for managing your building, please let us know.
1 https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/electricity/use-of-electricity.php, “Electricity Explained”, 8/28/2020.
2 https://www.eia.gov/consumption/commercial/reports/2012/lighting/, "Trends in Lighting in Commercial Buildings", 5/17/17