Do you qualify for free LED lighting upgrades?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED lighting is “the easiest, most affordable way to lower your electric bill and put money back into your business.” With some LED bulbs now available free of cost, it is the perfect time to start reducing your consumption, your environmental impact and, most importantly, your monthly bill.

“Replacing certain LED bulbs is free. Other bulbs, fixtures and controls are heavily subsidized. If you have a remaining balance, zero-upfront capital options may be available — the energy you save pays for the bulbs before you ever have to cut a single check,” says Tim Regan, president of the fiscal consulting firm TPI Efficiency. “Traditional bulbs are being phased out entirely and these rebates won’t last forever. Now is the right time to make the switch.”

Smart Business spoke to Regan about free LEDs, and reducing your total energy budget and usage through high-impact energy conservation measures.

The word “free” caught my attention. What’s the catch?

In January, a Northern Ohio utility reinstated energy efficiency programs. The incentives are available to commercial, industrial, governmental and institutional consumers of all sizes. The catch? Really there isn’t one. These incentives help the utility reduce energy consumption and meet government-mandated guidelines. In the end, it’s cheaper for them to hand out efficiency rebates than to build new, more efficient power plants. Replacing most bulb types including tubes and high bays is heavily subsidized, but there are a handful of ‘Edison-style’ screw-in bulbs that can be 100 percent free to the end user.

What types of businesses get free bulbs?

Essentially, any business will get significant rebates on LED replacements. But, if your lights are traditional screw-ins, indoor and outdoor floods, and even candelabras they will likely qualify for free replacements. The industry is finding a lot of opportunities for free replacements in hospitality, institutions, offices, warehouses, factories, retail and car parks since they often use a substantial amount of screw-in-type bulbs.

Where should businesses begin?

Talk to a fiscal consultant and lighting expert. Find an expert with a scale and leadership position that allows them to provide you with maximum subsidy and ultimately the maximum savings possible. These advisers will provide a free, tailored savings assessment that details your annual savings, payback period and ROI.

What savings should businesses expect?

That’s the best part. LED bulbs last 25 times longer than traditional bulbs. That means you can cut your lighting bill up to 80 percent and reduce maintenance costs like bulb and ballast replacement for years to come. LED provides the full spectrum of lighting ‘colors’ to highlight your products on the shelf. It provides better atmosphere for your clients and staff, and eliminates traditional lighting ‘flicker’ and eyestrain for a brighter, more efficient workplace. All of this can increase productivity and profits.

If your bulbs aren’t 100 percent free, they can be heavily subsidized through rebates, rider reductions and tax credits to improve your ROI. Average ROI is a little over one year, and the bulbs often more than pay for themselves through the amount you save on energy. Furthermore, there are exclusive programs in place where you may pay for your upgrade with no upfront capital through your energy supplier. You may even be able to install these energy solutions today but delay payment up to 24 months. By then you have already reduced your consumption, improved your load profile, decreased your monthly bill and impacted your future cost over the life of the bulbs.

Chances are if your building uses T12, T8 fluorescent or sodium halide lamps, you are spending at least twice what you should to light your facility. If you use traditional screw-ins the utility would like to replace them for free. While the funds are available, you can increase profits and spend less to get more. The price is right. The time is now.

Insights Energy Solutions is brought to you by TPI Efficiency Consulting