EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- With budgets tightening for state universities across Oregon, the University of Oregon is switching on a new idea, cutting tens of thousands of dollars in electricity costs by swapping old lights out with newer more energy efficient ones.
The UO is in the process of replacing thousands of fluorescent tube lights. Once the project is complete, university engineers estimate the swap will save around 98,000 dollars a year in electricity costs.
Crews will replace old T12 style fluorescent bulbs with newer T8 style lightbulbs and new power sources. UO engineers say the T8 bulbs are more energy efficient and also provide more light than T12 bulbs.
A Federal Government mandate on certain T12 power sources, or ballasts, is forcing the switch.
However, the University of Oregon is getting a good deal on the light swap, thanks to EWEB. The utility is paying for about 40% of the 681,000 dollar project.
“We're looking at saving about 1-million, 6-hundred-thousand kilowatt hours per year. And that's roughly equivalent to the energy usage of roughly 150 residences per year and all.. So this is also equivalent to the energy used in the Erb Memorial Union here on campus, so it's a significant savings in energy,” says Dave Smith, the University of Oregon's Campus Energy Engineer.
About 33,000 lightbulbs will be replaced on the UO campus. Because of the sheer number of bulbs, a private contractor will tackle most of the work starting in early 2012, likely sometime in January or February.
The UO is also looking to install new lighting controls and occupancy sensors across campus as part of the project. Campus engineers estimate the work will take most of 2012 to complete. Once its complete, engineers estimate it will take about three years for the lights to pay for themselves in energy savings.
According to campus engineering, all of the old T12 lightbulbs will be recycled.