Let There Be Light: Saving Green By Going Green
By: Joel Gingold
When you drive around Croton at night, the streetlights probably look pretty much the same to you as they did several years ago. But you’re missing the green behind the glow.
A few years ago, the village converted all of its 500+ streetlights to light emitting diode (LED) fixtures. The LEDs use far less electricity than conventional lights, and the lower power consumption results in about 145 fewer metric tons (MT) of CO2 being released each year from the power plants that supply them.
But that’s only half the story. Because we use less power, the village saves some $45,000 in electricity costs each and every year.
And that’s not all. If you recall the days when you used to be permitted to enter the Municipal Building, you were bathed in LED light wherever you went. Back in 2018, the village’s Sustainability Committee qualified Croton as one of the first Clean Energy Communities (CECs) in New York State. As a consequence of that designation, the village was awarded a $50,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), with which all of the lighting in the Municipal Building, DPW garage, and each of the village’s firehouses was also converted to LED fixtures. This resulted in an additional annual reduction of some 95 MT CO2 and $30,000 per year less paid out of the village treasury.
So from just these two actions, the village’s carbon footprint has been diminished by 240 MT CO2 per year—that’s equivalent to towing about 70 gas-guzzling cars to the junkyard—and we poor, beleaguered taxpayers are saving about $75,000 annually.
So now, I hear you saying, why can’t I make the same kinds of carbon footprint reductions in my own home and save some money just like the village has?
And the answer is, of course you can! LED light bulbs are now available at supermarkets, hardware stores, and on line.
However, there is a better way. LED bulbs at retail can cost $2-3.00 each. But Con Edison—you know, the guys you rail against all the time for their exorbitant rates and lousy service; that Con Edison—periodically offers LED light bulbs to Con Edison customers through the Con Edison Market Place for just 30¢ a pop. That’s not a typo. It’s really 30¢ for a 60-watt equivalent bulb.
These bulbs consume only 10 watts of power——that’s about 16% of the power used by a standard incandescent light bulb. And they’re actually brighter, throwing off 800 lumens vs. about 600 for the competition.
And if that’s not enough for you, their lifetime is rated at 15,000 hours against about 1,000 hours for incandescents. You can also get flood light bulbs for your hi-hat and outdoor fixtures that provide equivalent benefits. And many LEDs are now dimmable, if you use dimmer switches in your home.
So what does this mean in terms of green house gases and cold hard cash? Well, that depends on how many lights you have and long you leave your lights on each day. Now that so many of us work from home and the kids are not in school full time, it’s probably a lot more than it was last year.
But assume an individual light is on an average of four hours a day or 1,460 hours per year. Sparing you the math, that will result in a savings of about 50 lbs. CO2 per year for that single lamp or 1 MT for each 44 such bulbs. Multiply that by all of the lighting in your home and by the number of homes in the 10520 zip code, and we’re getting into some pretty significant savings.
Based on Con Edison’s (or the CCA’s) current rates, the savings accruing from that single bulb are about $18 per year, which translates into a payback period for your 30¢ bulb of one whole week. And after that, it’s all gravy. You can just put the money in your pocket. Not a bad deal at all. You can replace all of the screw-in lights in your home with LED bulbs and within a few weeks, you’ll be way ahead of the game financially and you’ll be painlessly doing your part to reduce our carbon footprint.