With that old technology, the opportunity to save a lot of energy and to make and recoup costs—and to take a bite out of the green apple—is low-risk.
One of the most underutilized energy-saving tools that people don’t look at is controls. We would always say in lighting there are three ways to save energy. One is the light source—do you have the most efficient light source working? The second is the fixture, including the ballast—is what you’re using throwing out the light in the right direction and most efficiently?
The third is lighting control. Lighting control basically revolves around how you switch the light on or off or up and down. Lighting controls is probably the biggest win for a number of different spaces, and lighting controls come in a number of different fashions, like time clocks (do you need the lights on the whole time?), photo cells (can you have the lights going on and off depending on where the light is coming from?), and occupancy sensors.
When it comes to lighting, what are some ways facilities can upgrade to be more efficient and current?
I’ll give you an example. The most predominant light bulb is a 4-foot lantern. The T12s are out there and they’re horribly inefficient. The technology was invented in the 1950s. That has been upgraded to what’s called a T8. The T8s came in the ‘80s, and they came in at 32 watts versus the T12s that are 34 watts.
Now there are equivalent lamps out there today—you can move from the 32-watt to the 28-watt, or a 25 watt—and those are direct replacements. So if any facility is installing and buying 32-watt light bulbs, they’re doing themselves an injustice. It all depends on the cost of the electricity, but if I was a healthcare facility, I would mandate that every T8 lamp that’s installed is a 28- or 25-watt.
The reason why is over the life of the light bulb, for an extra dollar or two, which is what it costs for the light bulb, you can basically save over $20 worth of energy. But the adoption rate of that technology is so slow because people don’t want to pay the extra dollar or two for the light bulbs.
Is it that facilities are buying light bulbs in bulk that makes that $1 difference feel far more significant?
It’s the way that people procure. You have the maintenance staff, the procurement staff, and the facility management staff. The facility management is concerned about the P&L, how much money they can save. They’re generally not involved in the discussion. The purchasing people are paid for finding the cheapest price they can get. The maintenance staff are paid to make sure if the light bulb goes out, it gets replaced as quick as possible.
Coming back to my original statement, it’s a financial discussion. You can save an incredible amount of money just by making these little changes as you go.
You can either just pay every time you need a case of light bulbs, or you can go through the entire facility and change them all out. Now I’ll add that with moves from the 32-watt to the 28-watt, there’s a bunch of savings. And there are a lot of utilities in the marketplace that are paying rebates for that migration from old technology to new technology. And that can almost offset the additional costs in some cases.
In the second part of this two-part series with Karl Williams, he discusses the T12 phaseout program this year and how facilities can best take advantage of rebate programs. Coming soon to www.healthcarebuildingideas.com.