One of the cheapest ways to cut down on costs is as simple as changing a light bulb. Some municipal departments in the Mohawk Valley and across the state are upgrading their lighting to trim electrical costs.
One of the cheapest ways to cut down on costs is as simple as changing a light bulb.
Some municipal departments in the Mohawk Valley and across the state are upgrading their lighting to trim electrical costs.
* The Herkimer County Highway Department is close to completing a $34,137 lighting upgrade, which Superintendent Jay Ewanyk said is expected to save the county $9,200 on its annual electric bill.
* The New Hartford Fire Department is replacing its lighting with a $10,000 upgrade for an annual electric savings of about $1,740.
* The state Thruway Authority is working on replacing lights at toll plazas in Syracuse and Albany, with an expected $400,000 annual savings on a current $2 million electric bill.
“Lighting is one of the cheapest, easiest and quickest things for an organization, a municipal building … to do and get a big payoff quickly,” said Brian Castelli, executive vice-president for Programs and Development for the Alliance to Save Energy, an advocacy group.
Castelli pointed out that energy efficient lighting such as light-emitting diodes (LED) are better quality and improve productivity.
“There are stories of mail facilities that are able to sort more mail than they were able to sort before,” he said. “There is just a whole realm of savings.”
Castelli said the trend emerged a few years ago because more energy-saving policies have been initiated and incentives awarded.
For example, New Hartford’s Fire Department and Herkimer County’s highway department received incentive aid from National Grid to help offset the costs.
Castelli said improved lighting helps utility companies as well.
“If they can save just on the cost of financing a new generation station, efficiency makes a lot of sense,” he said.
Since the programs inception in 2009, Virginia Limmiatis, spokeswoman for the Central New York Region of National Grid, said they've awarded a total to $155 million to upstate customers.
She said the program falls in line with the state's Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard and everyone's efforts to lower their usage and carbon footprint.
“The greatest impact is to the customers themselves because their savings are very real when they look at their bills month to month,” Limmiatis said.
Some might hesitate to make the switch because of initial costs, Castelli said, but typically those who switch see a return on their investment within two years.
Ewanyk said Herkimer’s highway department can expect to see a return within about 18 months. The current electric bill is about $16,000, he said.
“It’s money that we’re spending that we can save the actual taxpayer,” he said. “It’s a feasible alternative to what were doing. The bottom line is it’s saving us money.”
New Hartford Fire Chief Thomas Bolanowski said the department’s project begins in June. In addition to the cost savings, he said the department needed to update its lighting fixtures.
Page 2 of 2 - “Down the road we anticipated not being able to get the parts and bulbs for those types of fixtures,” he said. “It serves everybody well as far as being environmentally friendly and helping out the taxpayers.”