Lightbulb moments: making the switch to LED

November 2017


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LED lighting makes environmental, financial, social and sustainable sense for schools.

Lighting costs make up a large portion of a school’s expenses. One way for 

schools to drastically cut the cost of their power bills and future-proof their classrooms is to replace fluorescent lights with LED lights.

Managing director of T8LED Hamish Coney says LED lighting makes environmental, financial, social and sustainable sense.

“LED bulbs use 50 per cent to 90 per cent LESS electricity than traditional incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. A 40-watt incandescent bulb can be replaced with a 6-watt LED bulb, which will give an equivalent light output,” says Coney.

“We don’t charge anything upfront to retrofit your business with LED bulbs. Once installed, the school or childcare centre, or kindergarten, makes immediate savings on their power bill and they just pay us a monthly amount, which is a lot less than the savings you make.”

Coney says LED lights last for 10 years, compared to fluorescent lights, which last just three.

“As well as being demonstrably cheaper, the light is gentler on the eye and because they last so long the maintenance costs of changing bulbs are eliminated, leaving school caretakers more time to attend to schools’ other needs.”

New Zealand is just now catching up with a worldwide move towards LED lighting, says Coney.

“For example, in the USA, schools have banned any glass in the lighting over food in schools. The LED lighting we use is plastic and every part of it can be recycled. What people don’t realise either is that fluorescent lights have a small amount of mercury in them so are hazardous to dispose of, especially in landfill near waterways.”

Teachers are doing a great job of educating the next generation about sustainability, as evidenced by programmes such as Enviroschools and the Genesis Energy’s Schoolgen programme. Wellington’s Clifton Terrace Model School this year won Schoolgen’s top award.

T8LED recently switched nearly 90 fluorescent lights to LEDs as part of Clifton Terrace’s ongoing commitment to sustainability. There was an immediate and drastic decrease in the school’s power bill, says Coney.

“The school has recorded a 60 per cent decrease in power bills. Before we replaced the lights, I did a demonstration in front of the school showing the kids what LED lighting looks like. I lit up an LED light like a light sabre and the kids loved it when I dropped the light on the ground and it didn’t break. We also had the children measuring the output of different lights with a lumen reader and they were amazed they were able to track the power.”

Coney trained as a teacher in Western Australia then worked in IT, but it is his daughter who has been the inspiration for his move into LED lighting.

“I’m the father of my six-year-old daughter and as I’ve watched her growing up, I thought I want to make a difference in how sustainable our schools are.”

He has travelled to China to inspect the factory where the T8LED lights are made to ensure the sustainable approach of the company begins at the very source.

Currently there are few hard and fast requirements of schools to make their schools sustainable across the board, but Coney explains that students are so well-educated in the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling that LED lighting simply makes sense to them.

“We’ve found school children are fascinated by sustainable practices – and that the teaching across the sciences in relation to LED lighting and explaining the social and environmental positives of the lighting can become the beginning of a lesson plan for teachers.”

This is a sentiment echoed by the teacher lead on the Schoolgen programme, Maggie Clink from Clifton Terrace.

“The introduction of solar panels sparked a lot of interest from the school community, inspiring the pupils to come up with other ways to become more sustainable,” she says.


Four reasons to make the switch to LED

Limitations of fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lights are inefficient at high and low temperatures. They contain mercury, radiate ultraviolet rays and most can’t be dimmed. Frequent switching causes a lamp to age rapidly. They are also hard to dispose of and recycle.

Benefits of LED lighting. As well as being environmentally friendly and cost-effective, LED lighting is also beneficial for children with Irlen Syndrome, epilepsy, depression, agoraphobia, and other conditions. The better quality of light reduces eye strain and migraines.

New Zealand compliant and approved. T8LED is a wholly New Zealand owned company and their tubes go through detailed quality assurance and safety checks before leaving the factory. LEDs cannot be trusted if they are cheap – they may not meet New Zealand standards!

Easy pricing. T8LED’s price model allows your LEDs to come out of schools’ OpEx (Operation Expenses), rather than their CapEx (Capital Expenses). T8LED provides a free assessment report, which includes a no-obligation quote. They are also developing an app to allow schools to calculate their lighting costs by entering general data, such as the number of tubes and size.

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