Death to the Light Bulb…What’s next?
With rising energy costs and soon to follow, rising restrictions I expect to see a lot more legislation passed to save energy. Personally, I’m all for it. However, there is a cost to the conversion and with the budget fight in Washington, don’t expect the folks who pass the restrictions to help fund the conversions.
The last 100 watt light bulbs will be pulled from the shelves in January 2012. You should still be able to buy 75 watt, 40 watt, and 25 watt ones, but the 100 watt ones will be obsolete. (I can see the eBay folks stocking up to sell them in a few years at a premium - like the folks who stocked up on “Old Coke” when the “New Coke” formula was released).
California lawmakers are just about to pass the most agressive alternative energy laws. If passed, California Public utilities will be required to produce one-third of their energy using alternative means- to be phased in over the next few years. Wow….is that even possible?
I was an early adopter of the CFL bulbs at my properties. We soon learned that the reduced heat produced, significantly longer life and lower energy use made it worth the time to retrofit our fixtures. We also learned that our residents loved these bulbs so much, that they began to steal them. We went one step further, converting our fixtures to the cartridge style bulbs.
I remember walking into one of my leasing offices with a ceiling dotted with 120 watt reflector bulbs in the middle of the summer. It was really hot and those 20+ bulbs were heating up the place even more. We replaced them with 13 watt CFL reflectors and then replaced/retrofitted all the exterior fixtures. The result was we cut our electric use by 30% and our maintenance staff rarely had to replace a bulb (they last for 10,000 hours). The clubhouse/leasing office was as bright, but noticeably cooler.
Our next step was to work on the water costs. Water is expensive in Phoenix…
We replaced our old toilets with 1.6 gallon ones, added better quality low-flow shower heads and replaced the valve stops for all fixtures with 1/4 turn ball valves. Next we split our water systems, adding a second city meter just for irrigation (is avoided charges for sewer on water that was used for the pool and landscaping). Our savings were were over 40% - and some cities actually rebated us up to 1/2 the cost of the upgrades.
We made our landscaper adjust the sprinklers to the minimum water needs of the property and quickly addressed the source of any puddles that formed - chnging broken heads and adjusting flow.
It didn’t take long before we had our properties running better and with reduced maintenance.
If you own a master metered property, I would certainly suggest these changes plus adding your own interior fixtures that use only energy efficient bulbs. If residents buy their own fixtures, they won’t choose the ones that use less energy and produce less heat.
It’s clear to me that if we are forcing our utility providers to find alternative sources of energy, it won’t be long before our properties, shopping centers and office buildings will be required to employ them too.
Open to your comments and suggestions.