Evan Matzen, Manager, Sustainability

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ecently, a Green Blogic subscriber contacted us to find out how we can help make his property more attractive to current and future residents with green products. The associate manager of sustainability, Kelly Thompson, and I had the pleasure of walking the multifamily property to look for efficiencies. I’ll start by saying that it was very attractive to begin with, inside and out, but we were able to identify some great opportunities to help the owner, property manager, and renters save money on utility bills.

This garden-style apartment community’s biggest opportunity to lower utility bills came from the way its walkways, common areas, and outdoor space are lighted. We counted approximately 75 floodlights that each used 100 watt halogen bulbs. These floodlights give off a lot of warm light, but they are huge consumers of electricity.

Over the past two years, LED lights have been becoming better and better. This time last year there were limited LED replacement options, but things have changed. Manufacturers are beginning to build LED light fixtures with embedded LEDs, meaning the light fixture isn’t a traditional fixture with a removable bulb; rather the LED light source is integrated into the construction of the fixture. This allows for more, better quality, and a wider spread of light than would be available in a traditional fixture with a light socket where an LED retrofit lamp (or any other type of light source) was screwed in.

LED Light FixtureI encouraged the property to test 17 watt LED fixtures that would mount on existing halogen floodlight mounts. These LED fixtures, however, provide a different quality of light than the halogen fixtures they are replacing. The halogen fixtures provide a very warm yellow color of light, whereas the LEDs provide a cool bluish white light that better emulates daylight. This will be a slight change, but I am convinced that (if they even notice a difference) once residents realize how much better they can see at night with the LEDs, they will quickly forget the warm glow that the halogens used to provide. It’s all a matter of preference.

Now let’s talk about efficiency. When left on for 12 hours a day for a full year, these 75 existing fixtures will consume $5,006 in electricity. In addition, because those halogen bulbs only last about 2,000 hours, they need to be replaced twice a year at an estimated labor cost of $450 and replacement cost of $1,290. Each year, those fixtures alone cost the customer an estimated $6,740 to operate and maintain! The 17 watt LED puts out the equivalent amount of light as a 100 watt incandescent bulb (which, by the way, are no longer being manufactured) or a 23 watt compact fluorescent. For this particular property, the LED fixtures would last almost 8 years!

If you take the electricity savings, you will see that the LED fixtures each save $55.41 a year. Now, LEDs are typically more expensive to purchase than most other types of light fixtures (this particular fixture costs around $65) so it would take a little more than a year to pay for this fixture from energy savings. But, once it’s paid for itself, it will still provide light for an additional 6+ years, and the savings will continue to add up. Plus, in the 8 years of operational life, you won’t ever have to buy or change a bulb. That adds up.

If this particular property were to upgrade all of their 100 watt halogen fixtures to these 17 watt LED fixtures, they would see a lifetime total cost of ownership savings of $38,095! This is calculated by adding up all the costs of operating the existing system, including electricity, bulb replacement labor, and bulb replacement costs, and comparing it to the up-front cost of the upgrade and the cost to operate the LEDs for the same time period. See a $38,095 savings for an investment of less than $5,000! That’s a ROI of 943%, or an internal rate of return of 146%. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

 

Do you have LED fixtures on your property?  What has your experience been with them?

 

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