Around the world, and in every industry, companies are looking for new ways to run leaner and greener, to reduce both operating costs and their environmental impact. Equipment, production and process improvements are often the first lines of attack, but these mostly call for expensive upgrades and cause outages and workflow interruptions that quickly erode the return on investment (ROI) and result in negligible environmental improvement.
Instead, for many companies, the answer may be as easy as changing the lights. Light-emitting diode (LED) technology has become the simplest, most cost-effective way to not only cut operating costs dramatically, but also measurably and sustainably reduce environmental impact. Now the most reliable and efficient lighting technology for industrial and commercial applications, including hazardous environments, LEDs deliver immediate and quantifiable cost and environmental savings, not to mention provide a much crisper, clearer and more vibrant source of bright white light. Here’s how:
Cut energy costs
The most practically efficient light source available for commercial and industrial use, LEDs consume 70 per cent less energy per fixture than conventional metal halides, high-pressure sodium, incandescent and mercury vapor fixtures. In addition to consuming fewer watts per fixture, LEDs offer improved colour rendering and more precise optics, providing a better quality of light that can be placed exactly where it’s needed, reducing watts wasted by lighting the ceiling and walls, for example. By virtue of their instant-on capability, LEDs can also be equipped with occupancy sensors that turn the lights on immediately and only when needed. By contrast, most conventional fixtures require an extended warm-up period that forces most companies to simply leave the lights burning to avoid the delay, which of course wastes both energy and money.
These combined factors add up to a substantial reduction in energy use that can slash a facility’s lighting energy costs by as much as 75 per cent. At the G.S. Dunn dry mustard plant in Ontario, Canada, the company replaced just 18 of its 450-watt metal halides with 150-watt LEDs equipped with motion sensors. As a result, G.S. Dunn saw an immediate 72-per-cent drop in per-fixture energy costs and cut burn time of most fixtures from 24 hours a day to just nine.
Eliminate maintenance costs
In many facilities, changing conventional bulbs and ballasts is a never-ending and costly chore, racking up both equipment and manpower expenses. On the contrary, LEDs offer long-life, worry-free performance for up to a decade or more, with some fixtures even backed by a full-performance 10-year warranty. Because of their solid-state design, LEDs contain no delicate filament or bulb to break, and no ballast to fail due to shock or vibration. They also perform exceptionally well in extreme heat and cold, where other conventional bulbs and fixtures are highly prone to failure in harsh environments.
This long-life reliability can reduce maintenance expenses by thousands of dollars a year. For example, one major oil company reduced its annual maintenance costs by $105,000 by replacing 100 metal halides with LEDs, and at U.S. Pipe and Foundry, installing new LEDs shaved almost $30,000 off the company’s annual maintenance costs.
Reduce environmental impact
Switching to LED fixtures can significantly reduce environmental impact in two ways. First, they consume far less energy, drastically reducing the amount of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases produced in generating electricity. For buildings that require cooling or refrigeration, this lower environmental impact is amplified even more. LEDs produce far less heat than conventional fixtures, reducing demand on refrigeration and air-conditioning units, allowing them to run less to maintain optimum temperature.
Second, LEDs are non-toxic and non-hazardous, requiring no special handling or disposal procedures. Unlike some conventional fixtures that contain mercury, heavy metals and other hazards, LEDs can simply be disposed of or recycled with no added expense or risk to environmental or human health.
Through this combination of energy efficiency and cost savings, lower total cost of ownership and reduced environmental impact, LEDs have proven to be a cost-effective and earth-friendly alternative to conventional lighting in commercial and industrial applications. In addition, many utility providers across Canada offer rebates that offset a portion of the fixture and installation costs.
Unlike major equipment overhauls, upgrading to LED lighting is a much faster and more economical way to achieve both cost savings and sustainability goals, not to mention realize an almost immediate return on investment, with continuing future savings that add directly to bottom-line profitability for years to come.
Michael Schratz is the VP of marketing for Dialight.