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By the numbers: energy savings from LEDs in health care facilities

Even though LEDs offer significant improvements in energy efficiency and lamp life, as well as other benefits such as controllability and system integration, they still represent only a fraction of the lamps installed in U.S. hospitals. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) report “Energy Characteristics and Energy Consumed in Large Hospital Buildings in the United States in 2007,” published in 2012, found 40 percent of facilities were using LEDs to light just 2 percent of the total floor space (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2012).

Hospitals are excessive energy users and their operational bottom line is significantly affected by the overall efficiency of the lighting system. LED fixtures offer better performance and use less energy to generate the precise levels of light needed in the various spaces of a health care environment. To understand the energy savings potential of LEDs, let’s compare the numbers for conventional and LED light sources.

Efficacy of the light source

  • Incandescent lamps are the least efficacious light source, operating with a typical efficacy (lumen/W) of 10 to 17 lm/W.
  • Halogen incandescent lamps are slightly more efficacious, producing 16 to 29 lm/W.
  • Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) often fall within the range of 55 to 70 lm/W, while linear fluorescent lamps can achieve 80 to 100+ lm/W.
  • In 2013, LED-based replacement lamps ranged from 70 to 120 lm/W, with an average efficacy of 85 lm/W (U.S. Department of Energy, 2013). Today’s high-performing LED luminaires can achieve 125 to 135 lm/W.

Bottom line: Fluorescent lamps were once considered the best choice for energy-efficient lighting and are currently used to illuminate roughly 11 percent of the floor space in large hospitals (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2012). However, LED luminaires that deliver 100 lm/W are 25 percent more efficient than the top-performing linear fluorescent fixtures and nearly 200 percent more efficient than the CFL fixtures currently used in the majority of hospitals.

Length of life

  • The typical rated life range of an incandescent bulb is 750 to 2,000 hours.
  • CFLs provide 8,000 to 10,000 hours.
  • Halogen sources are rated for 7,500 to 20,000 hours.
  • Linear fluorescent lamps can provide 20,000 to 30,000 hours before the cathode fails.
  • White LEDs can offer an L70 useful life value of over 100,000 hours (U.S. Dept. of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 2009).

Bottom line: In a 24/7 health care facility where the lights are never turned off, an LED luminaire with a rated useful life of 50,000 hours would last 5.7 years, and an LED with a rated life of 100,000 hours would not require a lamp replacement for more than 11 years. The long operating life of an LED source reduces the amount of time maintenance teams, or their hired electrical support crews, spend changing light bulbs. This enables health care facilities to redirect resources spent maintaining conventional systems back into the business of care and innovation.

More savings through networked lighting control

A 2017 DesignLights Consortium (DLC) report, “Energy Savings from Networked Lighting Control (NLC) Systems,” estimates the installation of networked lighting control systems provides an average lighting energy savings of 47 percent (DesignLights Consortium, 2017). LEDs offer a major advantage over linear fluorescent and CFL sources in their controllability; thus, network controls represent a supplementary potential benefit of LED lighting. For example, hospitals can pair lighting controls with daylighting strategies in less-frequented corridors and stairwells to considerably increase savings.

LEDs not only create light more efficiently and with less heat than conventional sources, but they also offer a level of control and a long life that sets them apart. In health care environments, LED lighting offers many potential benefits to the facility’s operations and its bottom line.