Seeing The Light

Going Green

By Jim Bona

(Hamilton, NY – March 2013jim_0071) I get around a lot while I am at work.  It is part of my job.  I basically cover the whole campus so I get to visit most of the buildings on the hill.

The other day, in the midst of my running around, I had to duck into one of the buildings to “avail myself of the facilities.”  As soon as I stepped into the room, I immediately noticed that the color of the lights were different.

As I inspected the fixtures, I realized that they were new lcd lights. The color of these lights is bluish and bright, so they are very easy to sense that they were different than what I am used to.  Three fixtures filled the room more than adequately and I thought to myself: “I have to find out more about these, if I get the chance.”

Today, I ran into one of the facilities guys who would know about these new lights and I had the chance to chat with him for a couple seconds.  What I found out was simply amazing.  There were three fixtures before and they consumed about 350 watts of power to light the room.  The three new fixtures that replaced them now use only 3 watts of power to produce the same amount of light!  Wow!  There is a slight problem though.  Each fixture cost about 300 dollars.  That is the ouch part.

So there is a huge savings of power to light the room, but the cost of the fixture is the tough part to swallow.  The cost savings will take a long period of time to be realized, as the cost for power up on the hill is very low.  So it is the basic catch-22 situation. You have to spend a fair amount of money, but you are making a substantial savings in the amount of power that is used.

Since these are lights are left on pretty much all of the time, the savings will eventually be realized, but it is still going to take a fair amount of time. One consideration, though, is that since these lights can burn almost forever before they need to be replaced, the time and money spent on maintenance and replacement is almost nothing.  So there is some cost savings there too.

As lcd lights become more and more popular and available, we are going to have to make these same decisions.  It sounds like we are going to have to spend some money to save some power.  I think it will be worth it in the long run.

Jim Bona is a technician at Colgate and passionate about all things green. He can be reached at:  jbona@mail.colgate.edu.

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