Get the Budget Right Before Starting a Lighting Retrofit Project

Better Technology Leads to Savings

As technology advances to include more energy efficient lighting as part of overall quest for greener living, lighting retrofits provide a wonderful opportunity to cut operating costs while improving lighting quality. Companies and organizations undertaking energy efficient lighting retrofits are seeing dramatic savings on their utility bills of up to 65% while realizing a fast payback on their investment, typically from half a year to two years. They’re also enjoying better quality lighting that is provided through improvements in color lamps, reducing glare while furnishing lower maintenance due to longer life, lower cooling costs and utility-provided rebates.

Poor Budgeting Hurts Cost Savings

But, what about when a lighting retrofit goes wrong? When there are mistakes made in your lighting retrofit job, the savings you expect to realize often don’t materialize or are overshadowed by repairs or additional work that is needed to get the system back to where you need it to be. There are several common mistakes that can cause this type of problem, which we’ve been reviewing over the past few months. Today we’re going to discuss why buying on price alone, though initially less expensive, can actually cost much more in the long run.

When you’re considering bids on a lighting retrofit job, it can be very tempting to make your selection based on price alone or as the main motivating factor in the decision process. Unfortunately, this is more often than not a false economy. There are many other considerations that should be just as important, including the long-term costs and benefits the system will deliver.

Budget Planning Includes Future Savings and ROI

There are a few questions you should consider in addition to the initial cost. What are the expected savings the system will provide? If the system you select based on price costs $1,000 less at the beginning, but another system will save an additional $100 per month on your utilities, the difference is made up in ten months on your electric bill, and you’ll lose the additional savings you’d have gained from the more energy-efficient system. What are the expected maintenance costs? If you need to perform maintenance twice as often with a less expensive system, it won’t take long for the maintenance costs to eat up any savings you’d realize from the lower cost.  Is the light going to provide quality lighting for your facility? If it won’t, your productivity losses from poor quality lighting will quickly cut into your potential up-front savings.

When it’s time for providing quotes, many vendors can lower their prices by cutting their costs dramatically. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you’ll get the same quality of installation for a lower price. The contractor can use untrained labor, increasing their overall cost at the end of the job and inflating the initial figure. They can substitute lower-grade materials or less material than the job would require if done right, cutting corners and making future

changes much more difficult. They may build their bid using unreliable or untested technologies, or use discontinued products whose warranty stops when the vendor goes out of business. Maybe they’re trying to fit a one-size-fits-all commodity design to your project instead of providing a custom product that will best fit your needs. They can also rush production or take a number of questionable approaches to reduce their overhead, including not carrying insurance, not getting the proper permits, not paying suppliers and ignoring U.L. requirements.

By paying attention to these issues and following up on the contractor’s references and capabilities, you can help avoid this issue. If you need help planning a successful lighting retrofit, please contact us – we’re always happy to help!