On a Tuesday morning early this January I was sitting at a table with my wife and two daughters at a Perkins Restaurant in Olathe. While eating my tremendous twelve breakfasts, I happened to glance up and notice a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) in the fixture above us. It gave me a sort of warm feeling to know the restaurant we love to eat at occasionally was doing a small part to lower their environmental impact. I then continued to look around the rest of the room and realized that this bulb was the only fluorescent light bulb in the entire restaurant.
To most ordinary people this would not have been of much significance, but my wife would tell you that I am anything but ordinary. I can not make a trip to the store for a gallon of milk without coming home with a package of shiny new CFLs. This was an opportunity that I just could not pass up, so I decided to count the number of light bulbs and figure out how much electricity this Perkins store was wasting. After the initial laughter from my wife she graciously decided to help me count.
We came up with about 100 light bulbs excluding the bulbs in the bathrooms, kitchen, and other rooms not visible from the dining area. Replacing one 60 Watt incandescent bulb with a comparable 13 Watt CFL would save 47 Watts per bulb. This restaurant is open 24 hours a day so I am assuming the light bulbs are also on 24 hours a day. With this information I was able to do the following calculations.
Annual Electricity Savings = ((Daily Hours Used x 365 days/year) x (Watts Saved x # of bulbs))/1000 x (Cost of Electricity)
After plugging in the numbers it looks like this:
((24 x 365) x (47 x 100)) / 1000 x ($0.10/kWh) = $4117.00 in savings every year!
With an initial investment of $200 ($2/bulb x 100 bulbs)
My first reaction after doing these calculations was I must have made a mistake. How can you possibly save over $4000.00 every year just by changing a few light bulbs? I double and triple checked my calculations and came up with the same results every time. That is when I realized restaurants have a unique opportunity to save energy used for lighting because of their long hours of operation. The Perkins chain alone has just under 500 restaurants nationwide representing a savings potential of more than $2,000,000 annually and a potential CO2 reduction of 35,000,000 pounds annually. So why hasn’t this restaurant switched to CFLs yet? Their initial investment of $200 would be paid back plus $150 in additional savings the first month alone. The most obvious answer is they must not be aware of the cost savings. Very few businesses would hesitate to make an investment like this if they were.
A Perkin’s representative said, ”While it is disappointing that there are businesses still using inefficient incandescent light bulbs, it leaves us with an amazing opportunity to lower the energy consumption of our community while also helping our local restaurants cut costs in a time when many of them are struggling to survive.”
The next time you go out for a bite to eat take a few seconds to find out what type of light bulbs the restaurant is using. If you notice incandescents in all the fixtures, do the calculations and let the owner know your results. Together I believe we can significantly reduce our community’s demand for electricity while showing the nation that going green can be a very profitable business decision.
You can get your own CFL Savings Calculator at www.energystar.gov, then click on Find EnergyStar Products under Products, then click on Light Bulbs (CFLs) under Lighting and Fans, then click on Savings Calculator on the right-hand side.
By Doug Stecklein