What if all the UK's retailers changed their halogen lamps to LED?

Lux’s lighting economist, Dave Tilley, considers what would happen if the UK’s retailers replaced all of their halogen – or just some of their fluorescent – sources with LEDs

My back-of-the-envelope calculation is based on 50 halogen lamps per business and 4,200 operating hours. Obviously some retailers will already have switched to LED (although in the great scheme of things, not many) or they may be using other technologies that are more efficient than halogen, such as ceramic metal halide and fluorescent. On the other hand, these estimates are only based on lighting one shop. Many of those 280,000 retailers have more than one – some have hundreds. So I think our estimates are pretty reasonable.

LEDs have an ROI of less than 12 months, so the retail sector is missing a massive opportunity to save energy and money. The lighting energy saving is only part of the story. Replacing halogen with LEDs also reduces heat, which gives you knock-on savings on air conditioning. And it reduces the maintenance, which not only cuts the retailer’s costs, it also reduces transportation costs, leading to a further reduction in carbon emissions.

"The lighting energy saving is only part of the story. Replacing halogen with LEDs also reduces heat and maintenance"

Dave Tilley

If the European Energy-related Product (ErP) legislation – which prevents the sale of halogen lamps – was enforced, imagine the scale of the reduction in energy consumption and associated carbon dioxide emissions that could be achieved.

But there are still a significant number of people who have doubts about the ability of LEDs to replace traditional light sources.

For a successful change from traditional light sources to LEDs, it is essential that the quality and performance of the LED is assured. There is little point selling a 3W LED claiming it is a replacement for a 50W halogen – this approach will only damage the reputation of LEDs and therefore affect the speed of adoption.

But acceptance of LEDs remains patchy. The alternative is high energy use, costly maintenance regimes and damaged brands and reputations.

 

Just two tubes

Now let’s look at a more modest example right. What if just two fluorescent tubes were changed to LED in all the 280,000 retail businesses in the UK?

Two retrofit LED tubes might be considered a small number but it does demonstrate the potential of engaging a business sector. In addition, of the 280,000 retail business just under 140,000 are sole traders, with around 100,000 employing five staff or less.

Clearly large stores and groups can afford LED retrofit schemes, but there are a significant number of businesses that will require support.

I know I have said this on several occasions, but the government really could reduce the UK’s energy consumption by enforcing existing legislation and providing incentives to adopt LEDs, subject to quality and performance controls.