Light Years of Change: Are You Ready?

Energy Efficient Lightbulb

The light bulbs and light fixtures many of us have used for years are in the process of changing – and it’s coming on quickly. Federally mandated changes in lighting efficiency standards have rendered many common lighting products obsolete. In addition to pressure at the federal level, The State of Ohio and regional utility companies are offering significant incentives, such as rebates and grants, to get the end user, (all of us) to change our buying habits.

Three Driving Factors

Three factors are driving real change in the design and production of lighting; new legislation, business and consumers want to reduce expenses, and changing attitudes about environmental responsibility & energy conservation. As a result, Lighting technologies have improved more in the past 3 years than in the past 3 decades, creating quantum leaps in the efficiencies of the newer light sources

Government

The Federal Government (like it or not) has decided to do their part by legislating higher energy efficiency for lighting and lamps. You can look up the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 if you would like to read the details.

Reduce Expenses

Business and consumers are more willing now than ever to embrace lighting technologies that reduce energy consumption, in turn reducing their monthly expenses. The utility companies also want to control cost. Frankly, it is less expensive and faster for the utility companies to incentivize us to consume less energy than it is to build new plants or fast track the development of emerging renewable energy sources.

Green is Good

Demand for electricity continues to outpace the supply resulting in an inevitable collision course. We must curb our appetite for power, or find a way to produce more. Construction of new coal or nuclear power plants will no doubt affect the environment. The emergence of cost effective “green” energy and construction technologies has played an important role in changing businesses and consumers attitudes. As new green technologies are refined, and the cost of implementing green technologies is reduced, being green will be the only solution that makes sense.

Recent Changes

  • Standard probe start metal halide fixtures (common in manufacturing, warehouse facilities, and school gymnasiums) are no longer manufactured
  • Magnetic ballasts – the heavy ballasts that drive the T12 (inch and a half diameter) fluorescent bulbs are no longer manufactured
  • General purpose, three phase AC industrial motors from 1-500 hp manufactured for sale in the US must meet new NEMA efficiency standards (commonly called “premium efficiency” motors)

Scheduled Changes

The incandescent lamp standards include the following scheduled changes that will effectively “phase out” the manufacture or import of the following lamps.

  • January 1, 2012 – 100-watt incandescent lamps (yes, this is the normal “light bulb” used everywhere, especially in your home)
  • June 14, 2012 – Most incandescent reflector lamps (i.e. “can light” bulbs) and general service fluorescent lamps. (with minor exceptions, all of the 1.5-inch diameter, “T12” lamps are gone, in addition to standard 1” “T8” lamps).
  • January 1, 2013 – 75-watt standard incandescent lamps (again, this is the normal “light bulb” used everywhere, especially in homes)
  • January 1, 2014 – 40-60-watt standard incandescent lamps (the normal “light bulb” used everywhere, especially in homes).

Questions & Answers

What do I do with the lights in my house?

Answer: Install LED or compact fluorescent retrofit lamps in place of the incandescent. Be careful with bulbs that are on dimmers, they require a special type of bulb that is “dimmable”. In most cases, a savings between 70% and 85% of your energy cost will be realized with no adverse effect on your light levels. In addition, the bulbs will last 10 to 25 times longer.

How do I get money, grants, or incentives from the utility companies and the State of Ohio?

Answer: Talk to an energy professional that is familiar with all the laws and available rebates. They will navigate you through the process so you can maximize your energy savings and available incentives. In addition, DP&L, Duke Energy, American Electric Power, and some of the local municipal utilities, have set up departments to help you sort thru all of this. They have personnel in place to help guide you, and to point out rebate incentives available. In the DP&L service territory, visit www.dpandl.com/bizrebates

Why do I care about my office or factory lights?

Answer: You can install new fixtures, improve you light level, lower your utility bills, and receive a rebate and tax incentive for doing it. Most retro fit projects pay for themselves in one to two years. Some are even quicker. The energy savings will always be there, but the incentives won’t; and eventually you won’t have a choice.

Who do I call?

Answer: DP&L has a list of channel partners who are familiar with the programs. The company you select should meet with you to discuss your objectives, walk thru your facility, and provide an energy audit. Be sure the company completes all of the necessary paperwork for rebates, tax incentives, and warranty on the new products installed. Make sure your contractor has the proper insurance and workman’s compensation coverage.

Summary

This may seem overwhelming; it was to us at first. There are a lot of details of what you can and should do vs. what you can’t and should not do. Make sure you select the proper company to help you. Now is the time to take advantage of the rebates and tax incentives available before they’re gone!