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Chester County Church Saves with LED Lighting

Our church was built in four stages between 1962 and 2002. We worship on Sundays and operate a preschool and kindergarten nine months of the year. It has a sanctuary, eight classrooms, seven office spaces, a fellowship hall, a 60-car parking lot, and sundry other lit spaces. The sanctuary had 42 incandescent flood lights. The classrooms, offices, and fellowship hall had about 150 fluorescent panels. The parking lot had four mercury vapor lights.

In 2019, an energy audit indicated our greatest saving area would be lighting. (We had already worked on air leaks and insolation.) The audit predicted savings of about $6,000 per year. We also felt an ecological drive to be more efficient and had a group of dedicated and qualified volunteers.

Finding replacement LED bulbs for the high wattage lamps in the sanctuary that fit the old fixtures took the most research; but the new LED bulbs have equivalent lumens and consistent tone. The old bulbs required volunteers on ladders for replacements most months; but the new bulbs have a 50,000 hour life. Being used about 10 hours a week, replacing them will be a problem for our great-grandchildren.

Our volunteers installed the 2x4 LED panels a room or two at a time. Because of recent supply chain problems, the prices varied over the course of the project but cost about $10,500 overall.

We had to replace whole fixtures on the parking lot poles. That required a scissor lift rental, but the new fixtures also throw less light outside of the property.

We also replaced some lights on signs and added motion sensors at entrances.

The base period for the energy audit was August to November of 2018. This was a summer month and three school months which together represent one-third of a year. We chose the same months of 2021 for comparison because we were back in full operation after Covid shutdowns. During that period, we saved $3,000 which times three would indicate actual annual savings of $9,000. Therefore the payback for the project will be less than two years (remember our labor was free) with on-going reduction in energy and replacement bulb costs.

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