Furniture Retail Energy Saving Store Tip #4: LED Lighting, Your Secret HVAC Solution
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By Dan Parsley, EES Consulting
Many retailers blame their rising utility costs on the scorching summer temperatures, but did you know that the lighting in your showroom or manufacturing facility is also a culprit? Keeping your employees and customers cool is a constant battle during the summer months and the cost of achieving that goal is often shocking. Most energy-savvy retailers understand the advantages of LED lighting – long lifespan, low energy usage and bright, merchandise-enhancing light with excellent color rendering, just to name a few, but did you know that they also cut down on the HVAC cooling load in furniture showrooms?
One little-known contributor to energy consumption is lighting heat gain, the increase of heat within a space as a direct result of lighting equipment. If you are in a building with one of the traditional lighting options such as incandescent bulbs, halogen MR16 lamps, or metal halide fixtures, a significant amount of heat is being produced directly from the lighting source. These light sources can reach an excess of 350 degrees just from the heat of the lamp itself and, of the energy put into light, between 60 and 80 percent is dissipated as non-light, or heat. LED lamps top out at 150 degrees and reduce the heat generated from lighting by over 50 percent.
You can significantly reduce the amount of heat added to your showrooms simply by switching out inefficient lights. This allows your HVAC unit to work less to cool the same amount of space because less heat is transferred into the space. The less work the HVAC system has to do, the longer lifespan it will have.
Thankfully, converting to LED lighting will not “break the bank”. High efficiency LED lighting provides a great return-on-investment by permanently reducing utility costs but also by leveraging tax incentives and state and local rebates. In many cases, rebates and tax incentives will pay for the project. (To identify what rebates and incentives are available in your area, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy at www.DSIREUSA.org.)
Installing LED lighting also means less maintenance as they have a much longer life-span than traditional lighting options. Finally, LED lights also show off your merchandise with excellent color-rendering. LED lights suited for the purpose of enhancing furniture displays have a Color Rendering Index (CRI) between 82 and 95. The higher the CRI, the truer the color will appear, allowing customers to see the furniture as it would appear in daylight.
On average, LED technologies have a one to three year payback BEFORE factoring in the reduced cooling load on your HVAC unit. You may find that your showroom is too cold after you install LED lights and you need to increase the temperature on the thermostat, reducing your consumption above and beyond the savings from the lights themselves.
Dan Parsley is President and COO of Energy Efficiency and Sustainability (EES) Consulting, a Houston-based firm with locations across the U.S. that creates customized and comprehensive solutions to fit each commercial building’s unique energy needs.
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