What if you were told not to waste your money on upgrading to LED lighting? Or that you shouldn’t even consider an energy saving project regardless of how quickly it pays for itself? Well, that’s EXACTLY what we tell our clients when we begin working with their buildings.

Whether you are a home owner or are responsible for controlling expenses in commercial buildings you should have a plan. Having an energy management plan or at least an idea of what your long-term goals are for reducing utility expenses helps answer “why” you would be investing in these kinds of projects in the first place.

I’m here to tell you that if the only reason you are looking to upgrade your lights to LED is to save money you are likely missing several really important considerations, including:

– Is this the right time to buy? If not now, when?
– Is this the best solution or are we overlooking other benefits associated with another option? (this happens all the time with LED retrofit projects)
– What are other benefits that are hard to put into $$$ but should be considered when looking at energy conservation projects?
– Do we really want to throw away stuff that’s working to replace it with something that uses less energy or do we want to wait until it fails?
– What other projects are on our “list”? Since there’s always a list it’s best to have it written down so you can prioritize the things you are considering relative to other projects that compete for the same dollars in your pocket or in your capital budget.

Don’t underestimate the “power” of a solid energy conservation/utility cost control program plan. It will help you make more strategic and logical investments in time and resources.

For commercial buildings we are big proponents for developing utility cost reduction programs with plans that include:

Energy Management Policy – This formalizes organization’s commitment in the form of an ongoing program versus one-off or haphazard discretionary investments in quick payback projects (e.g. retrofitting to LED lighting).

Reduction Goals – Something that can tracked to gauge success or need for course correction.

Energy Management Team – Who will be involved with evaluating progress and opportunities on an ongoing basis? How frequently will they meet and what information will they review?

Action Plan – What activities/projects are you considering and how will they be prioritized?

Surprisingly few organizations we initially work with have a formal utility cost reduction plan for their properties. Without an overarching plan to guide your energy cost reduction investments there will be a lack of strategy to guide your decisions and, as a result, you may wish you had done something else instead of buying those heavily discounted LED bulbs at Home Depot.