Ithaca saves energy with LED holiday lights
December 3, 2007
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority works with Ithaca to install energy-efficient holiday lights, lower energy bills and reduce carbon emissions
Ithaca, NY: Taxpayers in the City of Ithaca are getting the gift of savings this holiday season thanks to a grant to help the city purchase energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lights for its holiday display.
Working alongside the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) the Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance (MEGA), a nonprofit organization that helps municipalities purchase electricity and natural gas at lower rates than they could get individually, is offering grants to eight upstate cities to purchase LED holiday lights.
LED lights are constructed from solid-state chips that convert electricity into light without using a filament or glass bulb. They can burn for up to 100,000 hours, enough to last through more than 11 holiday seasons. They produce almost no heat, rarely burn out, will not overload household circuits, and come in a variety of lengths, sizes, colors and styles.
Gay Nicholson, the regional coordinator for the NYSERDA’s Energy $mart Communities Program, suggested the grant program to MEGA because of the long-term savings from switching to the LED lights and also because the project will give residents a chance to view the new type of light strings so they can decide if they would like them for their own homes and businesses.
“LED light strings are more expensive than the old-fashioned incandescent strings that we are used to” said Nicholson, “but they quickly pay for themselves in energy savings and they are a lot safer to use because they don’t heat up.”
Nicholson worked with Gary Ferguson of the Ithaca Downtown Partnership (IDP) to identify which lights to change with the grant funds. All 50 of the lamp posts on the Commons and Aurora Street were decorated, with LED mini-lights and pine boughs, by IDP staff and a dozen volunteers from Sustainable Tompkins. NYSERDA estimates that the 50 light strings will cost less than $60 to keep lit from early November to late January, compared to over $400 for the old mini-incandescent lights used in the past. The LED strings draw less than five watts each compared to 50 watts for a conventional 25-foot string. Even more savings for the city will result from an additional grant from MEGA to replace the larger C7 light strings that outline all four of the pavilions on the Commons.
“The pavilion lights are on all year round, so the savings will add up quickly for us” said Jim Crandall, head electrician for the City of Ithaca.
The old incandescent pavilion lights cost the City over $3,200 a year because they were on 24 hours a day. The IDP recruited local apprentices in an electrical training program of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 241 (IBEW) to install the new C7 LED light strings on the pavilions, along with photosensors to turn them on and off. Electrical costs are estimated to drop to about $26 a year for the four pavilions because of the extreme efficiency of these commercial-grade LED lights. MEGA’s $500 grant for the pavilion lights will be recovered in energy savings in just the first two months of the decade or more that the lights should last.
“We’re delighted to have this additional opportunity to help our customers save money on their utility bills,” said Barbara Blanchard, MEGA’s executive director. “We want to help spread the word about the importance of finding ways to reduce our energy consumption, and we are working with NYSERDA’s Energy $mart Communities Program to bring LED holiday lights to six counties in the upstate region. Maybe next year we can do even more.”
By changing these pavilion lights, the City of Ithaca will reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by over 14 tons. The city will also save on maintenance costs for replacing burnt-out bulbs because of the exceptionally long lifetimes of the LED bulbs.
“This simple change will create big savings for Ithaca,” said Paul D. Tonko, President and CEO of NYSERDA. “LED lights use substantially less energy and are safer than traditional lighting because they burn cooler. These long-lasting holiday lights will help protect the environment and serve the community for many years to come.”
New York residents can follow Ithaca’s lead and save over $100 this holiday season by decorating their homes with a variety of energy efficient lighting choices that are easy, safe and last longer than traditional holiday lighting, including LED lights and :
- Cool-to-the-touch fiber optic holiday lights are a good choice for paths, trees, decks, patios and vaulted ceilings because fiber optic cables make it easier to access and maintain lights in hard-to-reach areas.
- Rope lights consist of tiny incandescent lights spaced about an inch apart that are enclosed in a half-inch diameter flexible plastic tube. These lights last more than 20,000 hours and make a safe choice for decorating trees, doors and windows.
- Candelabra Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) use about 80 percent less energy, produce the same lumens and generally last 10 times longer than the average incandescent bulb. They can be used in candlesticks and menorahs instead of an open flame.
Energy-efficient holiday lighting applications is just once component of the “Little Steps to Big Savings” campaign NYSERDA is administering this fall where New Yorker’s are taking a pledge for energy efficiency. To take the pledge or to learn more about it, visit NYSERDY Get Energy Smart or call toll-free 1-877-NYSMART.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) uses innovation and technology to solve some of New York's most difficult energy and environmental problems in ways that improve the State's economy.
Agency contacts: NYSERDA spokesperson:
Mary Ingram Schatz (email@example.com)
Colleen Ryan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Phone: 212-600-4469 Phone:
866-NYSERDA ext. 3359
Gay Nicholson (email@example.com )
Last Updated: 10/19/2012