Royal OakDecember 27, 2012
Local businesses find savings in LED lighting
By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer
ROYAL OAK — With energy costs breaking the bank for many people and companies, reducing lighting costs has become one fairly simple way many businesses are adapting.
Light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs are increasingly replacing the common fluorescent, sodium and metal-halide alternatives in homes, parking lots, automobiles and businesses.
Royal Oak resident Stevan Bratic, who is the managing director at locally based Bratic Enterprises, said businesses can drastically cut their energy costs by switching to LED lighting. A business spending $100,000 per month with sodium and metal-halide lights are decreased to $25,000-$30,000 per month with LED lighting.
“Lighting is the fastest and easiest way to save money,” Bratic said. “It’s the low-hanging fruit. If you can, reduce the energy cost for lighting by 50-70 percent.”
Bratic said the larger the use, the larger the savings. Residents will see savings individually, but his company specifically works with commercial, industrial and retail businesses, as well as automotive. He said parking facilities, gyms and manufacturing facilities often see more savings due to the higher volume of lighting each requires.
“Because of quantity, that’s when you’re going to get the most savings,” Bratic said. “When you have an LED, you can see better and farther. Not only is there an improved sense of security, there’s just better lighting.”
Serving national clientele, Bratic Enterprises has helped out local businesses, such as the Bank of America headquarters in Troy, Legend Valves in Auburn Hills and is even testing out a light with Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, as well as Cooper Lighting and General Motors.
“We’re very competitive in the market because we don’t deal with import/export and transportation costs,” Bratic said. “Companies that do installation, what they typically do is buy the product and mark it up nearly 100 percent.”
Bratic Enterprises recently joined the ranks of more than 60 authorized contractors through nonprofit Michigan Saves, which helps connect businesses and residents with energy savings.
“The No. 1 focus is to save energy and facilitate saving energy any way you can,” said Michigan Saves program coordinator Todd O’Grady.
O’Grady said the nonprofit is able to offer both rebates and financing for businesses, especially in the food industry, that cut back on energy costs. For food industry companies cutting back by 20 percent in both gas and electric, a $2,000 bonus is available. Financing for projects ranges from 3.99-5.9 percent, while the group also helps connect people with Consumers Energy, DTE and 47 other smaller companies statewide. Federal rebates are also available.
“When they use their financing, they’re not interrupting their current bank lines, because we’re a lease,” O’Grady said.
One energy-saving method O’Grady said grocers don’t consider is the cooler lighting in the frozen food sections. He said heat from many light sources counteracts the air coolers, but LED lighting, which doesn’t produce heat, can lighten the load.
“LED is just coming into the market,” O’Grady said. “A lot of people thought it was too expensive to install, but that’s coming down. The nice thing is that it doesn’t produce heat.”
Bratic said his LED-focused company has found success since LED solutions typically provide a higher color-rendering index and color temperature, resulting in brighter, more clearly visible illumination. Additionally, those solutions tend to last much longer than the commonly used fluorescent alternative.
“A lot of companies have misconceptions because they bought cheap product from overseas and they’ve failed already,” Bratic said, noting that many have unusually high expectations of LEDs. “The misconception is 100,000 hours. An LED cannot depreciate by more than 30 percent at 50,000 (hours, per guidelines). It’s not going to depreciate 30 percent at 50,000 hours. It’s actually going to depreciate at 64,000 hours.”
By comparison, Bratic said fluorescent lights depreciate at 18,000-20,000 hours, while providing lower-level lighting.
“People don’t think long term,” Bratic said. “You can do all these great things, these rebates and then financing to stretch out the cost. There’s money out there so you don’t have to pay for it up front.”