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Why aren’t more businesses using LEDs?

Source: Energy Management

Published: 4 April  - Joe Bush

Although a relatively new technology in the UK, LED lighting has not taken off in the same way as the older CFL (compact fluorescent light) energy saving lighting in the UK, with the government, retailers and energy companies already making a commitment to work together to phase out inefficient light bulbs and replace them with these new energy saving alternatives.

However, is this tendency toward using older technology misguided in light of newer and more efficient LED technology? And, could businesses, organisations and local authorities save more money in energy bills and be more energy efficient by committing to LED light bulbs instead?

In countries such as China and the US, LED lighting has been in use for several years now, even the White House has pledged to change all of its light bulbs to LED. Why is the same commitment not happening in the UK?

One company that thinks the UK should recognise the benefits of LED light bulbs is LED, which provides a range of LED products across a range of buildings including homes, shops, offices, bars, petrol stations and factories.

Andrew Yeung, director at the company, questions why more businesses are not using LED lighting in the UK. He said, “LED light bulbs are much more energy efficient and use up to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs. They also last longer by providing 50,000 hours of use compared to a regular incandescent light bulb which only lasts for 15,000 hours on average. Moreover, LED light bulbs are 100% recyclable making them very environmentally friendly. This can be compared with CFL which has a lower lifespan, high depreciation, contains mercury and is difficult to recycle.”

Although there is an initial outlay in cost (and Yeung is aware that this may have a bearing on the decision on whether or not to change to LED Lighting), the long term saving on energy bills and the environmental factors far outweigh the initial cost.

He continued, “Even though the initial cost of LED is above average, the greater energy efficiency levels and longevity of LED mean this is quickly recovered and there will be considerable reductions in lighting bills and maintenance. Moreover, if a company finds it difficult to make the initial cost of installation, then the Carbon Trust can provide a loan for up to five years. Having said this, one year is usually enough time to pay off the initial costs.”

Since launching in the UK last year, LED has established excellent working relationships with businesses and local authorities helping them to switch their lighting to LED and Induction Lighting products. However, Yeung is keen to continue to make the change and find greener and more energy efficient lighting alternatives.

“Businesses are facing calls to be greener and more environmentally friendly, but are worried about extra costs associated with this. LED lighting offers businesses the opportunity to be greener without these extra costs as they will actually be saving money in the longer term through using less energy and maintenance on a day to day basis.”


The Brighter Alternative

Shopping Centre Magazine - Published:  25 May, 2012

With halogen lamps following incandescent onto the scrapheap, can LED technology plug the gap in the market?

The European Commission is proposing that low voltage halogen lights be banned from next year, forcing the retail property industry to think about alternatives. But, with the UK government and businesses having made a commitment to work together to phase out inefficient light bulbs and replace them with new energy and cost-saving ones, why aren’t LEDs being considered here as they are in countries like China and the US? 

The European Commission’s proposal is part of the same ecodesign legislation that led to the phasing out of incandescent bulbs. Under the proposals, 12V MR16 lamps that are widespread in retail, commercial and residential applications will be phased out from 2013. With millions of these bulbs sold in the UK every year, the cost burden of replacing bulbs on a widespread scale is likely to have a significant impact on businesses, particularly in the retail sector, during already difficult economic times. 

According to LED specialist OCG  - even those who offer energy efficient alternatives - have indicated concern about the restrictions the ban will impose. Simon Leggett, managing director of OCG explains: “This latest proposal is another misguided piece of legislation from a government who are unfortunately failing to get a handle on the issue of energy efficient lighting.

“Government has a fundamental role to play in accelerating the widespread adoption of energy efficient lighting solutions. But the latest proposal to ban low voltage halogens fail to take into accounts overall efficiency or the needs of the end user. What is required is a radical rethink in our approach to lighting that focuses on long-term solutions.”

Leggett believes this isn’t the first time government has “missed the mark” on lighting legislation, after the incandescent bulb phase-out led to the widespread adoption of compact fluorescents that he describes as “not only a major step backwards in terms of performance but also a poor move that encouraged products containing large quantities of mercury to be released into uncontrolled environments.

“The intention to encourage widespread adoption of energy efficient lighting is absolutely right,” he says. “But the impact on businesses has to be taken into account. Pressure must be matched by support and proper communication around the benefits of investing in long-life, maintenance-free lighting.”

While the UK government, retailers and businesses have made a commitment to work together to phase out inefficient light bulbs and replace them with new energy and cost-saving ones, LED Andrew asks why LEDs aren’t being considered in the UK despite the many benefits and despite the rapid growth of the technology in other countries like China and the US, where even the White House has agreed to make all of its light fittings LED.

LEDs can reduce electricity bills by as much as 90 per cent, they provide 50,000 hours of use compared to incandescent bulbs which last an average of 15,000 hours, and they are 100 per cent recyclable.

“People are reluctant because, as with any new technology, it takes time to get to know and be confident in,” says Andrew. “But the technology has matured over the last few years and it’s much more reliable in comparison with traditional lighting - LEDs are high performance and much better value for money overall.

“Two years ago people worried about the colour of the light, LEDs were seen as cold but the colour temperature is better now - they match the warm light of halogens.”

The temperature of LEDs is much lower compared to traditional lighting. At only 30C-40C the bulbs can be touched by hand, whereas traditional light bulbs use 90 per cent of their power to emit heat rather than visible light, something that increases the need for air-conditioning.

“It doesn’t make sense not to replace traditional lighting with LEDs,” Andrew concludes. “LEDs are efficient and environmentally friendly. Initially the cost is higher but you’ll save in the long run, especially with electricity costs rising all the time. And it’s a constantly developing area - halogens have come to the end of their development but LED technology is young and exciting.”


LEDs offer a brighter future, says report

By Mark Kinver Environment reporter, BBC News 16-Dec 2011

A field trial of LED light fittings in social housing says the new technology can deliver huge energy savings, reduce costs and makes residents feel safer.

The study, carried out by the Energy Saving Trust (EST), measured the performance of more than 4,250 LED light fittings installed at 35 sites.

The EST said it carried out the trial because an increasing number of LED lights were now commercially available.

It is predicted the technology could dominate the lighting market by 2015.

"We like to test things in-situ in order to understand their real performance rather than rely on manufacturers' claims," explained James Russill, EST's technical development manager.

But, he added: "We are at one of those rare times when there is a revolution; I think it is fair to say, within the lighting sector.

"LEDs promise to be the way forward for the whole sector, to be honest. There are so many benefits: they can be smaller, brighter; it is one of those rare technologies where the trial has shown it performs better than the lighting systems it is replacing but, at the same time, using less energy."

LED appreciation

At the 35 sites in the field trial, the authors of the Lit Up report calculated that the LED fittings saved more than three million kilowatt hours (kWh) each year when compared with the previous lighting.

"The trial has shown that the installation of LED light fittings can be used to maintain or enhance light levels, and in both cases can generate energy savings," the report's authors wrote.

They added: "The increase in colour temperature typically produced by LEDs also improved the environments monitored in the field trial, a factor much appreciated by the social housing tenants.

"With the rising price of electricity, the high efficiencies of LED lighting technology will make it an even more attractive investment in the years ahead."

Mr Russill said that he thought that there would be a natural take-up for the new lighting systems.

"I am already aware of many people that have bought LEDs without any subsidy or incentive," He told BBC News.

"As with any new technology, there is a higher initial cost - these products are new to market - but people seem to be looking beyond that and seeing they last much longer.

"LEDs will take over the market in due course because I think they are such better products, but I do think introducing them into a subsidy scheme would be a real benefit to speed things up," he added.

As well as the technical benefits, Mr Russill said feedback from tenants involved in the trial highlighted social benefits too.

"Some of the comments we had was that the light was fresher, brighter and more like daylight," he said.

"Generally, the feedback was that the lighting makes it a nicer place to live."

The brighter light levels also had a positive impact on people's sense of security, he observed.

"We also did fit some lighting in external area, such as balcony areas and car parks.

"People also did comment and did make the areas outside feel like a safer environment because it was better lit.

"That also applied to stairwells as well which could be perceived to be an area where shadowy figures like to hang out."


Businesses urged to flick switch on £700m in efficient lighting savings

New Carbon Trust report argues investment in energy efficient lighting can cut corporate energy bills by up to 50 per cent

By Business Green staff  06 Dec 2011

UK businesses and the public sector could cut their annual energy bills by up to £700m a year by switching to energy efficient lighting technologies, according to a report from the Carbon Trust.

The company yesterday launched a new guide detailing how embracing lighting best practices, such as installing efficient LED bulbs or automated sensor-based controls, can help the average organisation reduce energy bills by a fifth.

It added that companies with significant lighting requirements such as supermarkets, retailers and large office environments could cut electricity use by between 30 per cent and 50 per cent by installing efficient lighting technologies.

Some firms are reluctant to invest in energy efficient lighting technologies on the grounds that they can cost more than traditional lighting systems.

However, the report also argues that with lighting accounting for around a fifth of all the electricity used in the UK, even zero cost measures such as encouraging staff to switch lights off when they are not in use can deliver savings equivalent to around £350m or 2.2 million tonnes of CO2 a year.

"As the Christmas lights go on and the days grow shorter, I'm urging businesses to think about the huge savings they could make by boosting the efficiency of their lighting systems," said Richard Rugg, director of Carbon Trust Programmes.

"From simple reminders to turn the lights off, to installing the latest in lighting technology, there's £700m and 4.4 million tonnes in CO2 emissions to be saved by UK businesses making lighting more efficient. The guide demonstrates how businesses can dramatically reduce both their carbon output and their bottom line."

The free guide contains a wide range of recommendations designed to help companies reduce their lighting bills, including proposals to install modern lighting controls, ensure fittings are positioned to reduce the number of bulbs you need, and switch to energy efficient technologies that can deliver rapid rates of return.


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