Vol. 20   No. 2
Summer 2015
  • MGE Talks Business
Energy Trends

New generation of affordable LEDs an energy and design winner

Paul Dybdahl, Dybdahl Design Group, added LED lighting throughout his business and expects a payback in less than a year.

Paul Dybdahl, Dybdahl Design Group, added LED lighting throughout his business and expects a payback in less than a year.

$60,000. That's the price Paul Dybdahl was quoted 10 years ago to switch to LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs and fixtures.

"I wanted LEDs because of their energy savings and long life (35 to 50 times longer than an incandescent), but the payback was too long," recalled Dybdahl, owner of Dybdahl Design Group, a Middleton bathroom and kitchen design company. "Plus, at the time, the color rendering wasn't right for our design studio."

A changing LED landscape

Fast-forward to 2014. Dybdahl knew LEDs had changed: color options had expanded, the types of bulbs available had increased and the price had dropped substantially. The time seemed right for an upgrade. With some research, Dybdahl and his staff found LED bulb options that were a good fit for the studio.

But with 126 bulbs to replace, their budget didn't stretch to replace all the lights at once.

"I was replacing 60-watt bulbs with LEDs whenever they burned out. Then I heard an ad about lighting incentives and decided to investigate," Dybdahl said. "I belong to NARI (the National Association of the Remodeling Industry) with Luanne Fax (MGE's representative to NARI) and asked her where to go to learn more."

Fax sent Dybdahl to Brad Alexejun, a commercial account representative with MGE. "After chatting with Paul, I knew this project was a great fit for Focus on Energy's small business program," Alexejun said. "Before calling in Focus on Energy, I did a lighting assessment and discussed what to expect when they met with the electrician."

Focus on Energy provided the project incentive. "We were able to use the existing fixtures, which was a huge savings," Dybdahl said. "It made sense to upgrade to LEDs everywhere—our showrooms, conference room, offices, exterior lighting and the parking lot."

Exceptional energy savings

The total upgrade cost was $2,400. Half was covered through the Focus on Energy incentive. "The payback should be quick—less than a year," Dybdahl said. "In the first full month with LEDs, our energy bill dropped $240. And we should see an even bigger drop during the cooling months. In the past, our air-conditioning had to overcome the heat generated by 126 bulbs. I'm excited to see the savings this summer."

Introducing clients to LEDs

"The color and feature improvements mean LEDs make sense in places where they didn't in the past. Plus, the price drop has been critical. For home applications, we're finding that bulbs that cost about $16 a piece two years ago are down in the $7 range. We're recommending LEDs all the time now," Dybdahl said.

The advantages of working with MGE

"MGE made the upgrade a seamless process," Dybdahl said. "They assessed our needs, they connected us with Focus on Energy and they followed up. I'm extremely pleased with the support they provided, and it was great to be able to do this upgrade all at once."