No money to bring down those energy bills? Don’t worry, let your suppliers pay for the lighting upgrade and take a share of the running cost savings. Andrew Brister visits a self-financing retrofit project

You can’t have something for nothing, right? Wrong. When it comes to upgrading your lighting, you can.

It works like this. Installer A or Manufacturer B (or increasingly Wholesaler C) comes and does a survey of your lighting. They say they can shave a whopping 40 per cent off your energy costs. ‘How much is that going to cost me?’ you say. ‘Nothing,’ they reply, ‘and what’s more, your monthly outgoings will immediately be less than they are now.’ They will take their fees from the energy cost savings, and when the new equipment is paid for, all the savings go to you.

The most popular way is with an interest-free loan from the Carbon Trust. A good example is March Foods. Its managing director Paul Cope had been looking to cut energy use at the company’s warehouses. Cope describes the problem: ‘We had two 3,250 square- metre warehouses with a total of 84 450W HPS lamps operating 24 hours a day, six days a week. Even though we’re not in and out of all bays in the warehouse all the time, the old lamps couldn’t be switched off as they took 10 minutes to re-strike, so I wanted a better solution. And to be honest, the lighting was getting so dark that Lord Lucan could have hidden in our warehouse.

Waiting for failures

‘Then there’s the maintenance problem. With 15 metre-high ceilings you need to bring in a cherry picker to replace failed lamps and you can’t have people working underneath. That means we’d typically wait until four to eight lamps had failed before hiring the scissor lift over a weekend to replace them. This was costing about £2,000 a year.

‘On top of that, the HPS lamps are fragile and hang about two metres from the ceiling, so that just puts them in the range of an extended pallet truck. It was quite common to lose a few of them that way.’

March Foods' two warehouses operate 24 hours a day

Cope began to examine LED lighting as a potential smart solution. He called in installer Tom Klimes of Interior Control, who proposed an LED high bay unit from Dialight as a replacement for the high-pressure sodium units.

They replaced the sodium lamps on a one-to-one basis with Dialight’s DuroSit Series LED high bay. This robust 150W fitting has eight arrays in a small oval pattern so it can direct light efficiently with less waste and delivers an immediate power saving of 66 per cent.

Unlike HPS, the LEDs light instantly, so they work well with occupancy sensors. This has increased energy saving to 72 per cent. Tom Klimes says: ‘We’ve removed the maintenance burden as the high bays are warranted for five years and you can expect them to last 10 or more. Also, they hang only two feet from the ceiling and are very robust, they are no longer vulnerable to being clipped by pallet trucks.’

He adds: ‘We could probably have got away with fitting two LED for three HPS rather than one-for-one, but chose instead to avoid the cost of rewiring. As a result you might think we’ve over-lit, but the March Foods warehouse workers love it. One of them even says he feels noticeably less tired at the end of a night shift.’

March Foods had the installation funded by a four-year interest-free loan of £38,000 from the Carbon Trust which offers a £1,000 loan for every 2.5 tonnes of CO2 saved. Having originally underestimated the energy savings to be made from using occupancy sensors, Paul Cope now estimates that payback will take less than three years.

Cope says: ‘We’re delighted with our lights and the five-year guarantee is very important for us. I insist on a spotless warehouse, so I really like the brightness. In fact we’re now thinking of going LED in the loading bay between the warehouses and even in the offices.’

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