Posted October 8, 2013 by James Van Roekel 

Replacing Our Incandescent Bulbs with LEDs

Last year, we replaced all of the incandescent lamps in the Lowman Student Center at Sam Houston State University with LEDs. From our internal discussions and the federal regulation requiring companies to stop making 100-watt light bulbs (which is progressing from 90 to 60 to 45 to phase out through 2015), we found a true incentive to move forward.

The first space that I had looked at was the bookstore in our building. This space is not managed by us, but we pay for the power that is consumed. The store is lit by typical ceiling fluorescent fixtures, but also had 45-watt halogen fill and spot lights that were on all day. Utilizing an online energy use calculator, it was discovered that this space and these lamps alone were using 3,500-watts per hour—about the same as running a central air conditioner. We made the purchase of one LED to test in that area to ensure the same light color, output, and coverage as the current halogen lamps.The new led lamp worked great, so we purchased enough to replace all of the halogens. This was at a cost of about $700. When asked, the first thing the bookstore staff said was how much cooler it was in their areas.

This was something that had not occurred to us before. How much heat were these halogens giving off and how much did that affect the heating and air conditioning? We discovered that electricity use in the bookstore dropped 2,080 kilowatts per hour in just one month (compared to the previous year).

We had also swapped out our can lamps and other individual fixtures around the building with same light color and output LEDs and found that our one-month energy use for the whole building dropped by 13,400 kilowatts per hour. I should note here that we also fixed a few “leaks” in our roof air handlers and that may have attributed to some of the saving as well. However, we received $688 in incentives for the bookstore lamp swap and more than $2,500 for the entire building. With these incentives and the power usage drop, the LEDs paid for themselves in about one month. We pay an average of $0.04 per kilowatt per hour. Using the 13,400 kilowatts per hour as an average, this calculates to about a $6,500/year savings—just from swapping out lamps.

We are still seeing substantial energy savings and should for some time. The lifespan of these LED lamps are rated for 25,000 hours. I cannot confirm that, but if these last that long, myself and most of my colleagues will be retired by the time these go out.

We are currently looking to replace ceiling fluorescent fixtures with LED fixtures in our theater and ballroom locations. The power usage decrease with not be as pronounced as with the incandescents but will allow for light dimming in these locations much cheaper than with fluorescent dimming ballasts.

James Van Roekel

James Van Roekel is the Director of Student Affairs Technology at Sam Houston State University.

James has more than 18 years of higher education experience as a faculty member and administrator in academic and student affairs. His research, which can be found in 25 publications (including three books), and teaching focus investigates the utilization of free and off-the-shelf hardware and software toward the development of multimedia and digital applications in student learning. His grant writing has brought in more than $725,000 to engage faculty and students in current and emerging technologies. He is a member of EDUCAUSE, Infocomm International, and the Region II Leadership Team. James is a past recipient of SHSU’s Sammy Award and the Vice President's for Student Services Bearkat Spirit Award.

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