Building Operating Management

Utility Rebate Programs: Get the Savings You Deserve

It’s not uncommon for facility executives to get their utility to approve a rebate program, but for the lighting upgrade to not produce the savings (in dollars) they were expecting. Here are a few guidelines to follow to make sure your project generates the expected savings.

One of the most common mistakes is to not do the proper homework up front. A lighting audit should be done at the start of a lighting upgrade, says Audin. That audit serves as a basis for estimating savings from the project.

For example, if a facility is switching from 40w T12s to 30w T8s, it is common assume a burn rate of 3,000 hours, says Audin, but that assumption will often misstate the potential for savings.

"It's easy to make assumptions that aren't quite right about the lamps and the ballasts and how much total wattage is drawn," he says.

It's not unusual for as many as 10 percent of the lamps in a facility to be burned out, for example. That won't cause a rebate application to be denied, but it does mean the savings generated won't meet expectations.

Occupancy sensors are another area where it is easy to confuse savings estimates. If a facility replaces fixtures with lower wattage lamps and adds occupancy sensors, it is easy to count the savings twice, says Audin.

For best results, make sure that calculations on occupancy sensors follow the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP).

Because it's easy to overestimate the savings generated by occupancy sensors, consider using an occupancy logger during the planning process, Audin says.

An occupancy sensor affixes to a ceiling and can detect how often occupants are using a room. The device stores the data and helps create a better estimate of how often lamps will burn when an occupancy sensor is added, as opposed to a blind estimate.

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  posted on 10/19/2009   Article Use Policy

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