With electricity prices rising 6.5 per cent a year, it’s no surprise that so many building owners and managers are looking for ways to reduce consumption. One of the best solutions is LED (short for light emitting diode) lights.
To say LEDs are gaining in popularity is an understatement. In 2011, less than 10 percent of residential buildings were using LEDs. By 2016 more than 30 percent will have started switching over, and by 2020 that number will be over 70 percent.
How LED Lighting Works
Like a bad argument, traditional (incandescent) light bulbs produce more heat than light. Ever notice how hot a typical 60-watt bulb gets after running for even a minute? That’s because its illumination comes from a white-hot metal filament.
Heating the filament takes up most of the energy. But LEDs create very little heat in order to light an area. When a suitable voltage is applied to semiconductor leads, electrons recombine with electron holes to release energy in the form of pho tons – an effect called electroluminescence.
So in the simplest sense, LEDs use less energy, and produce more light. LEDs also last 10 to 50 times longer and are free from mercury and glass, making them easier to maintain, and more environmentally friendly.
In a typical residence, a 60-watt incandescent bulb can be replaced with a 7-watt LED bulb of equivalent brightness for an energy savings of nearly 90 percent. And you can do this in seconds with one hand.
Strata Property Applications
For strata applications, the biggest savings for LEDs come from places where the lights are on 24/7 – such as lobbies, suite corridors, parking garages and stairwells.
A typical strata council that replaces a building’s 24/7 lighting with new LEDs can expect to see an immediate energy savings of 50 to 70 per cent and a full payback period of approximately 24 months.
Government Regulations and Rebate Programs
Starting in 2014, the federal government has recognized the need to move consumers away from old, inefficient lighting. In fact, under new regulations, Natural Resources Canada has made it illegal to manufacture or import 100-watt and 75-watt bulbs beginning January 1, 2014.
A second ban on 60-watt and 40-watt bulbs became effective on January 1, 2015.
Further bans are being placed on several forms of fluorescent lighting. Some provinces offer hydro credits and incentives for users who upgrade to LEDs. Here in British Columbia, condominiums that replace older lighting technologies with LEDs can qualify for incentives from BC Hydro to help offset the purchase price of a retrofit project.