Lighting upgrades: A bright idea for any business

Did you know that lighting upgrades can cut 50 to 70 percent of your business’ lighting bills?

compact fluorescent bulb with words energy saving above itA lighting retrofit has the quickest return on investment, often paying for itself in energy savings in one to two years. Here are four types of lighting projects important to small businesses, utility incentives available for each then three tips on how to get started on upgrading.

  1. Incandescent lighting. Chances are that if you have table lamps or older track lighting, you also have inefficient incandescent bulbs. Luckily, these can be easily replaced with highly efficient compact florescent lights (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs) that last thousands of hours longer and use a fraction of the energy. Ameren UE currently offers rebates ranging from $2-$11 for every incandescent bulb replaced with a CFL or an LED.
  2. Exit signs. Upgrading old exit signs with new, efficient LED units can save you $24 per year, per sign. If your business has several signs, the savings can add up quickly. Ameren also provides a $12 rebate for each individual exit sign replacement.
  3. T12s. T12 fluorescents once were the business lighting standard. These lights and their magnetic ballasts are so inefficient, however, that they are no longer produced and sold. Replacing existing T12s and magnetic ballasts with more efficient T8 or T5 lamps and electronic ballasts can cut your lighting bill in half.

    Springfield’s City Utilities, Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L), Empire, Independence Power & Light and Ameren all offer incentives to install energy efficient lights and ballasts. To qualify for rebates, old lighting must be properly managed through a certified fluorescent bulb recycler.

  4. Occupancy sensors. Have you considered all the energy needed to light unoccupied areas? Occupancy sensors turn lights off automatically when people leave the room and are great for bathrooms, break rooms and storage areas. Sensors can also reduce lighting energy consumption by 50 percent. Both Ameren and KCP&L offer up to $45 in rebates to install individual occupancy sensors.

Three tips for starting lighting upgrades

  1. Determine if rebates are provided by your utility and whether these are per fixture, like Ameren’s $12 per exit sign rebate program, or per kilowatt hour of energy saved, like Columbia Water & Light’s program. Some utilities, like KCP&L, offer both types of rebates, so research which incentive will save your business the most money.
  2. Calculate your potential return on investment through sites such as Ushio, Good Energy and the Lighting ROI Calculator.
  3. Too busy to calculate potential costs and savings? Lighting businesses across the state will consult on lighting replacement options and help your business obtain the right utility incentives and energy efficiency tax credits, too. Or consider hiring a Pollution Prevention intern to perform a lighting audit and to implement other cost saving analyses for your business.