Tax Credits and Financial Incentives for Upgrading Lighting Systems
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Lighting Product Phaseouts and ExemptionsPt. 2: Lamp and Ballast Phaseout DatesPt. 3: This Page
In many areas, utility or state-sponsored financial incentives exist to cover some of the cost of lamp/ballast replacement. Federal energy tax credits may also apply.
Consideration should be given to shooting a little higher than mere compliance: The total cost may be a bit lower for choosing items that meet requirements of rebate programs.
For example, instead of replacing T12 lamps and magnetic ballasts with standard 32-watt T8 lamps and electronic ballasts, evaluate if choosing 28-watt T8 and high-performance electronic ballasts might not be better. Any extra cost of the latter may be balanced by rebates and tax credits, while yielding even greater energy cost savings than the standard units.
Lower CRI T8 lamps are being discontinued in favor of 80+ CRI units, which will make products and people look better, potentially increasing sales and occupant satisfaction. When making such choices, give some thought to the color temperature. It is now well accepted that higher color temperatures (e.g., 5,000 K) make spaces appear brighter, potentially allowing a 10 to 20 percent reduction in measured foot-candles and installed wattage, once again cutting costs. Some higher-quality T8s are available with extended lives, thereby stretching time between relampings and cutting labor cost.
Eliminating incandescents in favor of CFL or LED units will, due to their much greater lamp life, significantly cut annual relampings, reducing lighting maintenance costs and lamp stocking.
Switching out magnetic ballasts with electronic ballasts will also raise power factor, potentially cutting that charge where it is part of one's electric bill.
Smart facility managers will also give some thought to how such improvements in lighting efficiency may reduce peak cooling load, perhaps allowing for a slight reduction in air handler fan speeds that may yield savings beyond those secured from reduced chiller load.
For those seeking LEED certification, nearly all new lamps boast significantly lower mercury, which may be the basis for an additional LEED point.
And, of course, any facility that cuts its carbon footprint from more efficient lighting, even when forced to install it, can take a bow for its lowered impact on the environment.
Lindsay Audin is president of EnergyWiz, an energy consulting firm based in Croton, N.Y. He is a contributing editor for Building Operating Management.