New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community




Read This Before Switching to LED Lights

Bill Morris in Green Ideas on April 6, 2017

New York City

LED Retrofit
April 6, 2017

Sometimes a co-op or condo board’s heart is in the right place, but its head isn’t screwed on quite right. Say you want to switch from incandescent to energy-efficient LED lighting to cut your electricity use, and so you order the super to swap out all the bulbs in your building’s common areas. For good measure, you urge all residents to do the same inside their apartments. You’re dreaming of an 80-percent drop in your electric bill, but you just made a big mistake.

“If your building’s average savings are too high, then you’ll get no money from Con Ed to help pay for the cost of a building-wide upgrade,” says Justin Gillen, founder of a company called Retrofit and Relamp With LEDs, which specializes in lighting upgrades. “Approval for the Con Ed incentive is calculated from a formula that averages out the energy savings from all the fixtures to be upgraded, and a Con Edison Market Partner is going to have to [do your LED upgrade] to get you every dollar of incentive you deserve. If you’ve already relamped the low-hanging fruit, we may still be able to help get your incentive money for upgrading the rest of your lighting. But we should have a short conversation just to be sure. ”

This may sound like a sales pitch, but it’s not. Phil Madnick, program manager for Con Ed’s Multi-Family Energy-Efficiency Program, acknowledges that boards should indeed look before they leap into a lighting upgrade.

“We do have restrictions on eligibility,” Madnick says. “We don’t incentivize LED lights after [they’ve been installed by the building owner]. The process I would recommend for co-op and condo boards is to call us at 844-316-4288 or go online – at – and download an application. Or get in touch with one of our nearly 200 Market Partners.”

These Market Partners are contractors vetted by Con Ed who inspect buildings for free, then prepare a building-wide energy upgrade proposal. (Retrofit and Relamp With LEDs is a Con Ed Market Partner specializing in lighting upgrades.) The proposal is then sent to Con Ed, which sends out their own staff to confirm the elements of the proposal before rebates are awarded and work is performed.

“The crux is that we have to document what a building has now and where we can go,” says Madnick. The Con Ed incentives include rebates not only on LED light bulbs, but also on lighting fixtures, shower heads, faucet aerators, pipe insulation, thermostatic radiator valves, and conversions to gas-fired boilers.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority also has an extensive offering of rebates for energy upgrades in multi-family dwellings at this site.

Whether a board decides to go through Con Ed, or NYSERDA, or a private contractor, Gillen urges all boards to get busy with lighting and other energy upgrades. “The longer boards wait to retrofit the building,” he says, “the more money they’re going to waste.”

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