Story posted April 21, 2014
Have you noticed the new lights in Smith Union? Over winter break, new and more efficient lights were installed in the union, replacing the old, dim lights that previously lit the space (seen in the foreground of the photograph). In the first nine weeks of the spring semester, the lights helped Smith Union save 23% in electricity usage compared to the old lights in the same time frame in 2013. More specifically, the new lights are saving about 371 kilowatt hours each day, which adds up to a little more than 24,000 kilowatt hours over the nine weeks. With the cost of energy at 11 cents per kilowatt hour, this amounts to roughly $2,500 saved, all due to the installation of new lights! According to the Environmental Protection Agency calculator, the lights have saved 16.5 metric tons of CO2. That is the same as taking 3.5 cars off the road for a year or diverting 5.9 tons of waste from a landfill!
The atmosphere and the budget are not the only things noticing the change, either. Students who spend time in the union studying, working in groups, or just hanging out with friends have also noticed a difference. Calling the lights whiter and brighter than before, students have pointed out that the new lights have positively affected their study habits.
One student says: “[The lights are] so much brighter in the evenings-I can now study without getting a headache!” Another points out that “Last semester, once it hit 4:00pm, I would have to leave the Union because it was too dark to keep studying, it would hurt your eyes. Now…I can go at any time of the day and it is a great place to study in the evening.”
The Smith Union light retrofit will be joined this summer by a slew of other LED projects. Thanks to a grant from Efficiency Maine, new lights will go into the following buildings: H and L Library, Osher, West, Farley, Watson's concourse, Howard, Stowe, Druckenmiller, Sills, Thorne, and Hubbard. Together, these retrofits will save over 500,000 kWh! That means less strain on our college electrical infrastructure, our wallet, and the environment.