LED-ing the way to cost savings in the NWT

LED-ing the way to cost savings in the NWT
The Fort Smith Community Arena is a lot brighter thanks to the new bank of LEDs that were installed during repairs late last year.Photo: Craig Gilbert

Wayne Korotash has shelves, but very few LED lights to fill them with.

It is no wonder: in a territory obsessed with the cost of energy, LED lights – made of clusters of super-efficient light emitting diodes – draw a fraction of the power of their incandescent ancestors, and can last more than 10 times as long.

The owner of the Hay River Home Hardware said LEDs have increased in popularity as their price has come down.

“We can’t keep them in stock,” he said. “The prices have come down considerably even from two years ago. The technology has changed and allowed the manufacturers to bring their costs down.  A 60W bulb two years ago would have cost $20 to $25, now a new bulb is $12.”

He will sell incandescents as long as Home Hardware continues supplying them, but they are not buying new. Korotash says stores have run out of 100W incandescents.

“A two-pack goes for $4 but they’re only good for 2,000 hours,” he said. “The LEDs last for 25,000 hours, and they are considerably cheaper on energy. A 60W-equivalent LED light only draws eight watts. If you look around the house at the lights you have on all day, it starts to add up. Everyone is concerned about power prices.”

That includes Keith Morrison, SAO of the Town of Fort Smith. The town recently completed a renovation of its arena, which was damaged by fire, and the first thing officials touring the facility for the first time in December noticed was how much brighter the ice was thanks to a new set of massive LED lamps hanging overhead.

It is the same reason the Northwest Territories Power Corp. is in the process of changing old high-pressure sulfur street lamps to LEDs. They expect to cut operating costs in half by replacing 100W sulfur lamps with 50W LED lamps that last five times as long. The plan is to address two communities per year; Lutselk’e and Jean Marie River are next on the changeover list.

Some LEDs mimic old fluorescent tubes, others are built to look like incandescent bulbs. Many models can offer further energy savings with built-in motion sensors. The lights are also free of the toxic chemicals including mercury contained in many compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), which were the latest and greatest thing prior to the advent of LEDs.

“The great thing that is not as obvious to end users is they have a lifetime of many, many years unlike a normal light,” Morrison said. “Think about how much work we have to go through to change a lightbulb over the ice surface, or over the pool. These things are sometimes 40 feet off the ground, so we have to drain the pool, get the ZoomBoom in there to change them. They might be a little more expensive to buy initially, but you factor in person-hours and equipment rental to go in and change an old-school one and the energy savings and they’re just good business sense.”

The evolution of the light bulb. From the two wires English chemist Humphry Davy attached to a battery with a charcoal strip between the other ends of the wires making the first arc lamp to Thomas Edison’s oxygenless bulbs and the now decades of development that went into producing economical LED lights for mass consumption.

Photo: Image courtesy of LED Energy Inc.

The evolution of the light bulb. From the two wires English chemist Humphry Davy attached to a battery with a charcoal strip between the other ends of the wires making the first arc lamp to Thomas Edison’s oxygenless bulbs and the now decades of development that went into producing economical LED lights for mass consumption.

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