LEDs Provide More Than Just Energy Savings

By now, most consumers have heard that LED lighting is supposed to be long-lasting, highly efficient lighting.  Imagine only changing your light bulb every 20 years or so!  The data we have collected so far in our NYSERDA LED Lighting Demonstration Project clearly supports those claims.  The LEDs are performing as expected with regards to efficiency and cost savings, but again, we expected that to take place.  You can read our project update report for more info on consumption, costs, and savings.

Unfortunately, efficiency is not enough to drive market growth of LED lighting technology.  If consumers don’t like them, they won’t buy them.  If there is no demand for them, builders and electricians won’t spec them to be included in their homes.  Even as code requirements are pushing the market towards “high efficacy” lighting, a recent U.S. Department of Energy Residential Field Study shows a significant percentage of homes nationwide are not meeting this requirement.

Many consumers are wary of energy efficient lighting products, partially due to bad experiences with CFLs, and are the savings are not enough to persuade them to take the LED leap.  But LED technology has seen rapid advancement and product expansion in recent years and their capabilities and benefits far exceed simple energy and cost savings.  When Newport first started this project, the number of different types of


LED Edison Bulb

bulbs and fixtures was extremely limited.  That was just two short years ago!  Fast-forward to today, and our options are virtually limitless.  Bulbs and fixtures come with all different specifications for brightness (lumens), color (kelvin), and efficacy (lumens/watt).  They are more compatible with smart light systems and have capabilities that far exceed than their predecessors.

And what’s most important is that when experiencing LED lighting first hand, the vast majority of people not only like the LEDs, but they actually prefer them to other options.  Our Consumer Perception Report highlights the results of several lighting survey’s conducted over the first year of the project.  The results clearly show that most participants (over 60%) prefer the LED light when compared side by side with an equivalent incandescent and CFL bulb.

Ok, but lighting in a small box is a lot different than lighting a big room or an entire home.  As part of the project, we asked our participating builders and homeowners to provide some feedback about the lighting systems in their homes.  Here’s what they had to say:


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Homeowner Testimonials

“We tried CFLs in our old house and they would burn out in less than a year.  We are very happy with the LED’s that are in this home.  We like and use the dimmers all the time. We would have not chosen dimmer switches to start but, since we have them now we really enjoy using them. We are especially fond of the under cabinet lights, which we like to use at night, and the LED lights in the ceilings.”  (Homeowners- Canadaigua, NY)  

“The LED lighting and Lutron system rocks! It was extremely easy to install and program. As for the convenience, life changing. You approach leaving and coming home in a whole new manor. We never forget to turn a light off, or struggle to find a switch on the way in with our hands full. Going to bed has changed as well. It will change the way you think about moving from room to room.”  (Homeowners- Saratoga, NY) 

“I really like the quality of light and that it is low cost.  The lighting in our new home is much better than the lighting in our previous house.  Overall, our experience with the LEDs has been very positive, it’s low-cost, modern, and easy to use. I will continue to purchase LEDs in the future and would definitely recommend them to friends and family.” (Homeowners- New Paltz, NY)

Builder Testimonials

“The LED lights in the home exceeded all of our expectations.  The whole process, from design to installation was very smooth and the lights really make the home look beautiful.  The Lutron Caseta control system is awesome and so easy to install.  We are so impressed with the system we are now offering it to our other homeowners.” (Fedyk Builders- Fairport, NY)

The homeowners in New Paltz, NY were so happy with the lighting in their home and the Lutron Caséta system that the builder (Greenhill Contracting) now offers it as a package available with every
home.  Since, completing the home for this project, the builder now installs 100% LED lighting in all homes.

“Since installing the LED lights in 20 Cooper St., I install LED 100% in all of my homes.” (Greenhill Contracting- New Paltz, NY)

Check out our most recent update for the LED Demonstration Project and see how the homes are performing in regards to energy and cost savings.  To learn more about this project, and for more information on Residential LED Lighting, visit our project page.

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The Old is New Again! 1830s Farm House Gets Energy Efficient Upgrades

A couple of weeks ago, Newport’s David Brignati and Matt Evans accompanied other members of the Capital Region Builders and Remodelers Association’s, Green Building Science Committee on a site visit to a completely restored farm house.  Built back in the 1830’s this was certainly not your typical restoration.  One of the requirements of the project was to keep the home looking much as it did nearly 200 years ago, anfarm housed from the outside the house looks no different.  However, hidden within those historic walls (as well as the basement, backyard, and attic) are innovative technologies, systems, and building practices that make this old home new again.

Located in the town of Clifton Park, NY the farm house was purchased by the current owners in 2010.  The energy retrofit would occur in various stages over the next couple years, ultimately resulting in the home achieving LEED Platinum and NGBS Emerald certifications, and a final HERS rating of 7 (41 without PV).  Through the combination of improved insulation, high efficacy lighting, solar panels, and heating and cooling systems, this home’s energy bill is only $17 a month!  Even more, at the end of the year the home’s solar panels create a surplus of electricity that the homeowners sell back to the utilities, thus zeroing out the homes energy consumption.

Some of the features of this home include:

 solar panels.png The backyard has five pole mounted solar arrays producing 8.4 KW. Additional solar panels were added to the garage roof to off-set the charging of two electric vehicles. The homes lighting consumption is reduced by the use of 100% CFL or LED’s.
 heat pumps.png In the basement a 3-ton water-to-air geothermal heat pump is installed that relies on only one 450 foot closed vertical ground loop. Two thermal solar flat panels in the backyard are used to produce domestic hot water with the access feeding the geothermal heat pump during the heating season.
 hrv.png The home uses a 200 CFM heat recovery ventilator (HRV) for fresh air exchange. This same system ties into the homes bathrooms thus eliminating the need for spot exhaust only ventilation. The homes the shell tightness level achieved a 2.5 air changes per hour. So ventilation and fresh air is highly recommended.
 insulation The walls of the home are double studded and were sprayed with a soy based closed cell foam to achieve an R-52 rating. The attic was spray foamed as well achieving an R-86.  The walls of the home are covered with clay allowing them to hold/release excess moisture.
 carport.png The solar charging station installed in the garage charges the Nissan Leaf. The other car is charged by using your typical wall outlet.  Both of the cars are charged by electricity that comes in from the solar panels mounted on the roof of the garage.
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NY Lighting Study Shining Bright on LEDs

Newport Ventures is well into the data collection phase in our LED Lighting Demonstration project being conducted on behalf of NYSERDA.  The project, which includes 100% LED lighting in 5 homes throughout the state, has now completed installation on 4 out of 5 of the homes, with the last one to be completed this fall.  Each of the homes will be monitored over the course of three seasons.

The table below highlights the results of the data collection to date.  The top portion shows average monthly kWh and costs, as well as the total consumption and cost of the LED lighting to date for each home.  The bottom portion provides estimated savings if the same home were to have alternate lighting packages.  The first is a typical code built home, using 50% incandescent bulbs and 50% high efficacy bulbs.*  The second shows the savings if the same home were to have 100% incandescent bulbs.

*assumes 60W Incandescent and 13W High Efficacy bulbs

LED table 1

Certainly the LEDs are saving these homeowners money today and helping to lower their utility bills each month, as seen in the charts below.  However, the real results will be seen over the lifetime of these bulbs.  A typical incandescent bulb lasts maybe 2 years, while a CFL is expected to last maybe 5.  LEDs however have a rated lifetime of 22 years!  Multiply the cost savings of each of these homes over that time period, and the savings are now in the thousands and you never had to replace a light bulb!

LED chart 1

A Bulb Comparison

Our most recent home to have completed the installation of the LED lighting system is located in Canandaigua, NY.  Data collection is set to begin this month.  To finish off the 100% LED system, we recently replaced 3 of their plug in lamp bulbs, using 3-way incandescent bulb, with a single wattage LED bulb.  Over the course of the project these bulbs will be monitored with Kill-A-Watt meters to determine electrical consumption. This “real use” data collection will be useful in determining actual savings and not just assumed savings.

We considered installing 3-way LED bulbs, however the homeowners were satisfied with the light output of the single wattage bulb.  The table below highlights the expected operational costs of their old 3-way incandescent, the replacement single wattage LED, as well as a standard 3-way LED bulb.

LED table 2

As you can see, buying longer-lasting, more efficient light bulbs can really pay off over time. Over a 22+ year period, it will cost you over $270 to keep one lamp lit with a 3-way incandescent bulb. By comparison, it would cost $30 using a single LED light bulb, a savings of more than $240.  And that’s just 1 bulb!  Now think about how many bulbs you have in your home.  The average home in New York has somewhere around 50-55 bulbs.  Do the math and that’s some serious cash kept in your pocket!

Learn more about our LED lighting project by visiting our project page.

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New York’s First Net Zero Apartment Complex

net zero apartment complexOn May 15th Newport Ventures staff visited New York States first Net Zero apartment development. Known as NetZero Village, the units located in Rotterdam, NY are expected to produce more energy than they consume on a yearly basis. These units are ENERGY STAR and EPA Indoor AirPLUS certified.

The 3-story buildings are enclosed with R-45 on the flat roof using a combination of rigid foam panels and closed cell spray foam, R-30 in the walls consisting of zip panels, 1/2” continuous rigid foam and 3.5” of closed cell foam and 2” of rigid foam under the slab with 3” of rigid foam on the edge. This high level commitment to the building shell has achieved early blower door results in the ≤ 1.0 ACH, which is very impressive for a building with net zero apartment complex 1common walls.

The HVAC system for each apartment consists of one mini-split head installed over the entrance door to each unit with the heat pump wall mounted on the backside of the building. The HRV supply side opening is located in front of the mini-split to promote air mixture while the mini split is operational. Small back up electric strip heaters are located in each bedroom if needed.

The hot water for each 6 unit building is generated from 7 solar collectors that transfer heat to one -700 gallon site built storage tank located in the first floor mechanical room. This pre-heated water passes through one of 2 electric water heaters when there is a demand.

Some of the key components to achieving Net Zero:

  • Solar Panels mounted on top of all the Carports
  • Solar thermal mounted on top of the buildings
  • 100% LED installed lighting
  • Energy Star Appliances
  • All of the buildings face South

Other technologies that Net Zero Village is incorporating include:

HRV supply side vent located in front of the mini-split to prohrvmote the mixture of conditioned air.

HRV supply side vent located in front of the mini-split to promote the mixture of conditioned air.

One mini-split installed for each apartment above the entry door in line with the hallway to the 1 and 2 bedroom units.

One mini-split installed for each apartment above the entry door in line with the hallway to the 1 and 2 bedroom units.






These heat pump units are designed to pull heat out of the air down to -15°F.

These heat pump units are designed to pull heat out of the air down to -15°F.

Coils delivered on site ready for hook up and immersion into the 700 gallon water storage container. Fluids in these coils will circulate back up to the roof to capture heat form the sun 365 days a year.

Coils delivered on site ready for hook up and immersion into the 700 gallon water storage container. Fluids in these coils will circulate back up to the roof to capture heat form the sun 365 days a year.

Carports throughout the development are covered in solar electric panels estimated to produce more energy than the entire complex will actually need on a year to year basis.

Carports throughout the development are covered in solar electric panels estimated to produce more energy than the entire complex will actually need on a year to year basis.

Seven solar thermal panels installed on the roof of each 6-unit apartment building.

Seven solar thermal panels installed on the roof of each 6-unit apartment building.

100% LED lighting throughout the inside and outside of the buildings.

100% LED lighting throughout the inside and outside of the buildings.

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Bright Lights in the Big Apple

Lighting is evolving at a rapid pace.  From an industry that was virtually stagnant for a very long time, it is now almost impossible to keep up with the latest and greatest.  When Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb in the late 1800s it was certainly ground breaking, but even he probably didn’t think that same bulb would be used for the next 100 years.  Today we advance our technologies so often that it seems by the time you get to the store to purchase something, it is yesterday’s news.

The modern era, with rapid advancements in technology and a heavier emphasis on energy efficiency began to pave the way for newer light sources.  The 1990s produced the CFL bulb, you know that spiral looking thing that you probably have somewhere in your house?  More recently, LEDs have emerged, offering improved efficiency and other lightfairnon-energy benefits that had previously not been available.

Even with the high efficiency lighting available today, the industry shows no signs of slowing down.  To keep up with all the latest and greatest, Newport recently visited the bright lights, big city of NYC to attend the 2015 LIGHTFAIR International.  For over 25 years, LIGHTFAIR has been the world’s premier lighting trade show, revealing new technologies, solutions, and knowledge.

As I walked around the show, it seemed like we were seeing more of the same.   Many of the exhibitors featured very similar products.  Lots and lots of LED bulbs, a heavy focus on smart controls, and a lot of fancy commercial and hospitality applications.  It became clear that LEDs for the residential market were lagging way behind.  I asked a couple of exhibitors about that specifically and most of them, depending on the nature of their business, agreed.  They mentioned that LED bulbs were certainly becoming more popular in homes, but the more innovative stuff, such as integrated LEDs are just not in high demand.  Many indicated that their high price points combined with a lack of consumer knowledge and awareness on all the features and benefits that the new LED technology provides was the crux of the issue.

As I walked around, there were a few products that stood out to me.  One of these was a company called Light Tape.  The product (shown right) uses a form of electroluminescent technology in the form of low-profile strips or panels that “seamlessly and evenly light tapeilluminate edge to edge.”  A single connection can light up 150 feet of the product and can be connected to other strips to give you the exact length and size you need.  It can twist and turn, providing unlimited artistic design options for both interior and exterior applications.  The product also comes in larger panels that can be used under countertops, shelves, and practically anything else you can imagine.  Light Tape essentially allows you to turn anything and everything into a light source of any color.  I’m not doing this product justice so just go here and check it out for yourself.

The other thing that really caught my eye was the number of vintage filament style light bulbs that were actually LEDs.  What struck me about these is that not only did they look almost exactly like the old Edison style bulbs, but that 1 year ago these did not exist at all.  You couldn’t even find something like this in a google search, and trust me I tried.  About a year ago we were finalizing fixtures for a 100% LED house that was part of our LED Lighting Demonstration project in New York.  The homeowners had purchased an antiled filamentque fixture that came with the Edison bulbs.  Because the project required that all the lighting in the home be LED, we were forced to replace these bulbs with a more traditional looking LED that really took away from the look and feel of the fixture as a whole.  One year later and we would have had the perfect solution.  And there wasn’t just one of these….at least 4 or 5 different companies were showcasing these in a number of different styles and shapes.  Going back to my first sentence, lighting is evolving at a rapid pace.  Check out one of the manufacturers, Archipelago Lighting.

It will be interesting to see what the 2016 LIGHTFAIR International brings to the table.  Will there be more residential elements?  What is going to be the next new craze in the lighting world?  Guess we will have to make the trek out to San Diego to find out!

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Newport Completes Testing on DOE Zero Energy Ready Home

Recently, Newport’s Matt Evans completed the first couple of steps in verifying the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home constructed by Under the Sun Building and Remodeling, LLC.  The home, located in Battenville, NY, is still in the construction phase bumatt blower doort Matt was able to complete the Energy Star thermal enclosure checklist as well as an initial blower doortest.  The home scored 1.16 ACH50, well below the Energy Star standard of 4 ACH50 in version 3.

To learn more about Under the Sun’s project click here to view their blog.

To learn more about the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Program click here.

Newport provides administrative and outreach support for the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Program. ZERH represents a whole new level of home performance, providing energy savings, comfort, health,and durability unparalleled in today’s marketplace. To learn more about our role in this program, click here.


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We Don’t Need No Ban…Consumers Driving the Efficient Lighting Market

You have probably heard about the controversial “incandescent bulb ban”.  The ban, a result of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, basically outlawed the importation and domestic manufacturing of the most popular light bulb in the world.  alternatives, mainly CFLs and LEDs, that were much more efficient than the old Edison bulb.  Slowly phasing these inefficient bulbs was going to help spur the high-irelandbanslightbulbefficacy lighting market and drive a shift in the entire lighting industry.

Well as hard as it is to believe, government has changed its stance and recently the ban was defunded.  One might think this would spell good news for the incandescent, that it Advancements in lighting created might get to live a little bit longer on shelves and in our homes.  However, that may not be the case.  According to many in the industry, we have already moved on and that WE, the average consumer, are driving the bus for the efficient lighting industry.

Mike Watson, Vice President of Product Strategy at Cree, is one of those believers. “What our industry must learn is that legislative priorities and advocacy, as seen this past December, continue to change. What doesn’t change, however, is consumer demand for better lighting alternatives that happen to be sustainable.”  Even with the defunding of the phase-out, the efficient lighting market continues to experience significant growth.  Manufacturers are producing more, retailers are pushing more, and consumers are buying more.

A lot of this growth can be attributed to a lower prices for high-efficacy bulbs and substantial advancements in the technology.  There are now a number of LED options available at your local hardware store for under $10.  LED bulbs are now come in a wide variety of brightness levels (lumens) and color temperatures (kelvin) are highly compatible with dimmers and smart controls.  They are estimated to last up to 22 years and reduce energy consumption up to 85%.  In short, they are better and cheaper than ever before.

It All Comes Down To The Light

Let’s face it, regardleNV Display Box 2ss of what is advertised, we probably won’t buy something if we don’t like it.  So let’s remove all the other factors from the equation and just look at light vs light.

As a part of a residential lighting project for the state of New York, we have asked over 1,000 consumers which light source they prefer over another.  (See our demonstration setup left) Three bulb types (CFL, LED, and Incandescent), all with similar specs (color temperatures, brightness, and wattage), illuminate the three boxes.  The bulbs are hidden from plain sight so that participants were not able to determine bulb type based on shape. No smoke and mirrors here, no fine print, just a good old-fashioned side-by-side comparison.preferred light

59% of all participants chosethe LED bulb, compared to 25% preferring the trusty old incandescent and only 16% choosing the CFL.  Outside of the energy and cost savings, compatibility, design features, etc. it is clearthat people just flat out like LED lights.  True, it is a small sampling, but this trend has been consistent across several events with a variety of audiences indicating that the buzz around LEDs is very real.

Learn more about our residential LED project here.  You can also read a full version of our Consumer Perception report here.

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