LED Lighting Retrofits Are “Making a Dent”

Bill Morris in Green Ideas on July 3, 2017

New York City

LED Incentives
July 3, 2017

The Con Ed incentive programs for LED lighting are designed to improve energy efficiency both in the common areas of buildings and inside individual apartments. The incentives include rebates not only on LED light bulbs, but also on new lighting fixtures, fixture retrofits, motion sensors, shower heads, faucet aerators, pipe insulation, thermostatic radiator valves, and conversions to gas-fired boilers.

The first step for boards to take is to contact one of the more than 200 “market partners,” who are certified by Con Ed to oversee lighting and other energy upgrades. Boards cannot participate in the program twice, and they’re ineligible if they’re already receiving incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Phil Madnick, a program manger in Con Ed’s Multifamily Energy Efficiency Program, advises boards interested in upgrades to call Con Ed at 844-316-4288 or visit its website at coned.com/energyefficiency.

Once incentives have been approved, they’re available for 45 days – meaning boards must be committed to doing the work promptly. After the job is completed, Con Ed performs another inspection. Provided the work has been done according to the approved plan, a rebate check to the board is usually cut within four weeks.

The cost of the upgrade at a 35-unit Upper East Side co-op was $4,100 for LED bulbs, new fixtures, and fixture retrofits. After receiving a $2,200 rebate from Con Ed, the cost came down to $1,900. The co-op should recoup its investment in just 16 months.

Because it was a relatively small job, the Upper East Side co-op was unable to take advantage of certain upgrades, including motion sensors, which turn off lights in such common areas as parking garages, stairwells, storage rooms, laundry rooms, and hallways when they’re not in use. Con Ed has return-on-investment guidelines; in order for an upgrade to win approval, it must pay for itself over time.

It’s still too early to tell how much energy – and money – the Upper East Side co-op will save from its switch to LED lighting. “Intuitively it makes sense that we’re going to save money,” says property manager Dawn Dickstein, president of MD Squared Property Group. “We got new fixtures, and the hallways look better. The super doesn’t like it because the hallways are brighter and he says dirt shows up. But he doesn’t have to worry – he’s very clean. I don’t think there’s any downside.”

According to Con Ed, since 2010 the Multifamily Energy-Efficiency Program has distributed $60 million in incentives to 120,000 apartments and 8,500 building common areas.

The allure of LEDs is obvious: the cost has dropped by 90 percent in the past decade, and now a 60-watt equivalent LED bulb costs about $3; LEDs use at least 75 percent less energy and last at least 25 times as long as incandescent bulbs, which actually produce far more heat than light, a major waste of energy.

“LED retrofits are definitely making a difference,” says Con Ed’s Madnick. “This year alone we’ve had 2,000 applications. It’s made a dent.”

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