I frequent many forums while researching trends in energy efficiency and I came across two comments today that merit an expanded discussion. The comments represent key factors that are influencing energy efficiency renovations and upgrades.
The first was a comment by Gary Reid recognizing the effect cheap “energy efficient” lighting products are having on business and commercial property owners. Reid specifically mentioned cheap LED lights that are burning out fast and have poor light quality that degrades quickly as the product ages.
The poor results from these products are creating bad reviews that are being shared within the sphere of influence of the business and property owners who purchased them. They are creating unhappy consumers and a “dim” view of energy saving renovations or upgrades.
As a follow up to Reid’s comment, Robert Roth Ph.D., owner of the LinkedIn group Increasing Commercial Real Estate Value shared a comment from an owner of commercial real estate. The comment should be shared with anyone who is only concerned with the lowest price for an energy efficiency product:
“I would rather buy an LED light that last 10 years for $10 versus an LED that lasts 3 years for $3.”
While the value may appear to be equivalent, Roth’s follow up comment made the difference very clear –
“Her point was that maintenance is far more expensive than lamps.”
EAG Vice President Curt Monhart weighed in on the issue. He noted that the $3 bulb will have to be replaced 3.3 times during the operating lifetime of the $10 bulb. He said it’s important to recognize that in many commercial and industrial real estate settings, where light fixture access may require a scissor lift, the labor cost to replace the bulbs can be significantly higher than the cost of the bulb.
As a profession we must be aware that selling the cheapest product in order to provide a low up front cost, does a disservice to the customer and the profession as a whole. There is a chilling effect that is created in the mind of our collective clients and it could stall the rising energy efficiency trend.
The best overall energy efficiency results occur when a holistic approach is used on every energy efficiency upgrade. That means not going after just the lowest hanging fruit using the cheapest product. It requires looking at how each system in a client’s facility is being used. It requires finding the ideal combination of products or services that yield the greatest return on investment. It requires looking at the total lifecycle cost of a product (including maintenance, statistical life span, and cost of replacement) instead of just the cheapest version.
Will that approach require more work? Yes! Will it require better training of your sales staff? Yes! Will it require more education of the client? Yes! Will it yield improved energy savings for the client and a rising trend towards energy efficiency? Absolutely!!
These are exciting times for the energy efficiency movement. Let’s not ruin it by selling “cheap” products.