Five Steps to Reduce the Cost of Light

Upgraded Lighting Improves Productivity and Saves Energy

Look at all of the lighting around you. Then look at your electric bills. Kim Seu, Manager of General Maintenance for Queen’s Medical Center (QMC) of Honolulu, Hawaii, certainly did. At one point, their electric bills were averaging $375,000 a month, and were increasing three to five percent every year. Oil price increases were regularly passed on to energy users such as QMC, by utilities in the form of “energy cost adjustments.”

“Our base kilowatt consumption wasn’t increasing substantially,” adds Kim. “But our energy costs were just climbing and climbing and climbing – ever upward. Still, we knew our administrative council would want solid proof that spending big money on new lighting technologies would provide a fast and generously proportioned payback.”


Kim worked with the local Grainger team and GE to develop a lighting upgrade that would help reduce QMC’s overall cost of light. The process included an extensive lighting audit conducted by a local energy services company.

About 90 percent of the QMC lighting retrofits involved the removal of more than 22,300 F32T8 linear fluorescent lamps and 15,000 standard electronic ballasts and the installation of highly efficient F28T8 linear fluorescent lamps and UltraMax™ ballasts.

"Our patients, staff and security team have all had high praise for the new lighting, which provides equal or better light output and better color rendering than the previous system," reports Kim. The initiative also involved newly installed reflectors for enhanced light output and energy-saving occupancy sensors.

In the hospital’s Miller Street Garage, a total of 7 floors were outfitted with 93 54-watt T5 linear fluorescent lamps (two per fixture). These replaced 173 150-watt standard metal halide lamps (one per fixture). According to QMC, lowering the watts per fixture and number of fixtures on each level of the garage amounts to a 30% reduction in electrical consumption.

There’s no reason to be overwhelmed by the prospect of conducting a lighting upgrade at your facility. Here are the basic steps you can take to start enjoying energy and cost savings.

Start with an estimate. Get a general estimate of the potential energy savings in your facility. This ballpark estimate can show you potential savings you could achieve by upgrading your lighting system with more energy- efficient technologies.

Get a more detailed facility audit. If the ballpark estimate reveals you have a real chance to save through an upgrade, request a second, more thorough audit. Though not necessarily free, a more detailed audit will usually include a comprehensive itemization of the opportunities within your facility, and the audit fee can often be applied toward the cost of the actual upgrade. Be sure to obtain a detailed audit proposal that outlines the specific lighting products recommended, the likely cost outlay, the energy and cost savings potential and the terms of the project.

Decide how to finance the upgrade. Financing options may be available to fund a lighting upgrade. Energy service companies and utilities may offer shared savings plans (in which they are paid out of the facility’s guaranteed cost savings). Other options may include upgrade related loans and leases. Utility companies also offer cash rebates on a range of energy-efficient lamps, ballasts and controls as incentives to help customers save money. When these rebates are applied to the cost of an upgrade project, they can help speed up its payback period and raise the return on investment.

Complete the upgrade. Lighting upgrades are fairly simple to do, and they can have a quick and sizeable impact on your bottom line. Though some disruption to your operations may occur during an upgrade, a carefully managed project conducted by skilled, accredited professionals can help ensure quick installation and minimize disruptions.

Reap the benefits. Thousands of companies who have performed lighting upgrades can verify that the savings are real and ongoing for the life of the lighting products (from four to 30 years, depending on the product and application). Once you’ve upgraded, you can also feel satisfied to know that you’ve contributed positively to the environment as well as help improve your facility’s ambiance and employee productivity.

Could your facility benefit from a lighting upgrade? Arrange a preliminary audit in your facility and find out. The potential savings may surprise you.

Related Links:

Environmental Lighting Information
Grainger Lighting Products