Energy Manager

Lighting efficiency series: finding the money for your upgrades

Given the current economic climate of North America, the impetus to cut costs is of greater urgency than it has ever been. This factor, coupled with the emerging threats of global warming and environmental damage show an increasing need for energy-saving measures to help shore up cost-cutting measures, while simultaneously minimizing damage to the environment. There is support out there for companies that want to create valuable change.

May 8, 2009  By Greg Jones

Energy efficient lighting offers one of the most cost effective ways to reduce operating cost and improve efficiency. Savings of 50-60 per cent are readily attainable with a simple payback on capital investment of one to three years. The surprising fact is that only a small percentage of companies have taken advantage of this opportunity. There are two main barriers: lack of available capital given the anemic state of the current economy and a wide array of technologies and products to be considered    

One of the core tenets of the western capitalist system that governs North American economics is that in order to make money, one needs to spend money first, and, some may find the idea of spending to upgrade lighting a superfluous expense; why save money by upgrading lighting if you can just as easily lay off half of your workforce? Many businesses would be surprised to know that an energy saving project can pay for itself with no capital outlay. The energy savings themselves can be used to pay for the installation. There is also financial support available from provincial and federal programs. The federal government NRCan program will provide funding of $10 per GJ of annual energy savings. In Ontario, the Canadian Manufacturers’ and Exporters (CME) offers the SMART program, wherein successful applicants can receive up to 50% of the cost of upgrade, to a maximum of $50,000. The Ontario Power Authority also offers the Electricity Retrofit Incentive Program (ERIP) delivered through local utilities providing up to $250 per kW of load reduction.

The chart here shows one example of how much a company can save by retrofitting its lighting system (click on the image to enlarge).

But while a cost-effective business is a successful business, the selection of the appropriate technology is also an important factor. The wide range of lighting technologies and products can make a choice very confusing. Each technology has its strengths and weaknesses in a particular application. What is the difference between T5 and T8 technology; when should induction lighting be considered; where do the new electronic pulse start fixtures fit in? These are questions heard every day as business owners’ work to determine the best course of action.
Given the current economy and the stress our activity has incurred on the environment, steps must be taken to reduce our energy costs and minimize the impact. Having your lighting retrofit to greener technologies is a great start that will save you money and minimize the damages to the environment that your business causes. In future articles we will examine the different technologies and related issues in more detail.

Greg Jones ( is President of Nexstar Lighting.


Print this page


Stories continue below