By Joe Herbst
The holiday season is exciting, merry and bright, but can also be quite pricey — especially for retailers. In order to accommodate shopper’s needs during the holidays, many stores extend their hours and create elaborate displays, which can require a significant amount of energy and maintenance to support a positive and safe environment, both inside the store and out.
However, increased energy use during the holidays can cause the overall electricity bill to not be so jolly. According to Energy Star, retail buildings spend roughly $20 billion in energy each year, with a great amount of this energy usage happening during peak shopping season. Finding new ways to save money and reach sustainability costs has perplexed retailers, however LED lighting and controls have increasingly taken a more prominent role in reducing energy costs, making it possible for retailers to be both merry and bright in their holiday decorating.
LED lighting in holiday decorating provides various cost savings benefits, which are both immediate and long-term. Compared to traditional fluorescents, LEDs can significantly reduce energy usage up to 60% just on their own. This in and of itself reduces a retailer’s energy spend.
LED technologies have already contributed to holiday season savings. For example, the Ridge Hill shopping center in Yonkers, NY, realized a tremendous amount of energy savings around the holidays when they made the switch to LEDs. Revolution Lighting’s T8 Single-End-Power LED tubes were used to replace the existing fluorescents across five parking garages and saved approximately $300,000 annually. These LED tubes reduced energy costs by 60% and provided a lamp life of 70,000 hours. The shopping center’s holiday decorating also incorporated LED displays, which included a 45-foot tree, 65 LED wrapped trees, and crystal trees and reindeer displays. By incorporating LEDs into the shopping center, Ridge Hill has increased energy efficiency of the holiday displays by up to 50%.
Energy Savings For Holiday Decorating With Lighting Controls
In addition to boosting energy savings, LED smart fixtures and localized controls are streamlining operational efficiency and helping stores customize their energy use everywhere. During the holidays, interior controls can be adjusted to accommodate longer shopping hours and localize particular areas of a store or shopping center. Lighting is influential, which is why it is crucial for retailers to be able to use controls to their advantage. For instance, localized controls for interior lighting can be adjusted to highlight certain holiday displays and different products that retailers are trying to draw focus to. If a store is having a particularly large sale on Black Friday or during other holiday-related store events, retailers can adjust the light output, color and color temperature to emphasize particular items, such as doorbusters or sale sections.
Whether it’s a store or a large facility, localized or global controls can be used to save energy in certain areas. With automatic switches and sensors, external timers, and daylight sensors, there are many different opportunities both inside and outside facilities. Retailers are increasingly incorporating occupancy sensors, timers, and other controls, the complexity of which can be altered to meet a facility’s specific needs. Using these controls to provide light at pre-determined times or when certain locations are accessed helps to minimize wasteful energy use. With the use of exterior lighting controls, timers or daylight sensors can be used to keep outside walkways and parking areas bright.
A Safer, More Pleasant Shopping Environment
While retailers want their stores to look cheery, they also need to factor in shopper safety. During the holiday season, extended store hours and less daylight often results in a number of shoppers entering and exiting the store in the evening when it’s dark out. Research shows that darkness causes less people to walk at night due to safety concerns, and good lighting could be encouraging and less threatening to shoppers. It is crucial for retailers to ensure shoppers feel safe walking to parking lots, garages or along sidewalks by providing adequate light which is why LEDs are useful.
LED lighting and solutions provide a cleaner and brighter experience throughout external walkways and parking lots/garages, which enhances feelings of comfort and security. LEDs provide increased light output and a decrease in light depreciation compared to fluorescents, which means lighting in external areas will remain brighter for longer. For example, LEDs experience an eight percent decrease in light output, while fluorescents can drop to only 30 percent of its original output.
While not all LED lighting falls under the large and extravagant twinkle light displays, external LEDs configured to stay on longer do help with the shopper experience. By ensuring the lights stay on longer with a greater output, retailers can keep shoppers safer outside of the facility and cut costs that can then be used for the more glamorous external lighting displays that draw in shoppers.
The transition to LED lighting is upon us. The virtues of the technology and the integration of lighting controls enables new frontiers in safety, visibility, convenience, and energy savings that were not available just five years ago. Let new LEDs light your way through the holiday season.
Herbst is the vice president of controls of Revolution Lighting Technologies. He has been the founder of four companies in Silicon Valley, CA and Portland, OR and holds over 14 patents tied to high-tech developments in the PC/laptop, networking, wireless audio, digital television, and lighting/lighting controls (IoT) markets. Herbst holds a BSEE from the University of Delaware, MSEE from Purdue University, and MBA from Santa Clara University.