Question: A while back, we changed our restaurant lights to the compact fluorescent in an attempt to get energy-efficient. BizEnergy writes a lot about LED lights — is there much of a difference?

Answer: While fluorescent lights are more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent lights, fluorescent lights still contain small amounts of mercury making them potentially dangerous for the environment when they burn out and become waste.

With Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations currently phasing out incandescent lights in the country, energy-efficient lighting and talks about the LED option are certainly trending in the green scene.

While some cities like New York, Los Angeles, Eindhoven and even Canada’s own Edmonton have been switching over to energy-efficient street lighting — certain big chains in foodservice are also putting in a sustainable effort when it comes to taking responsibility for energy consumption.

Why Tim Hortons is making energy-efficient moves

With technology advancing and commercial prices for LED lights becoming more reasonable, big chains such as Tim Hortons can make energy-efficient choices when it comes to their stores.

In fact, the company is opting for LED systems in all their new stores and have a retrofit program to update their lighting situation in their 4,500 pre-existing restaurants globally, according to the Globe and Mail.

The installation is pretty easy, the maintenance is low allowing for bulbs to be changed after four years and they are so energy-efficient that the company will make back their investment in better electricity costs within 3.5 years.

“The new lighting systems are part of the company’s commitment to a greener building design, as it plans to have as many as 30 of its Canadian restaurants LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified by 2016,” reports the Globe and Mail.

Why companies are opting for LED lighting over the fluorescent option

As mentioned above, the waste management of fluorescent lighting is more hazardous for the environment than LED bulbs — compact fluorescent lights (CFL) have toxic mercury in them.

“LEDs offer the advantage of CFLs — lower power consumption and longer lifetimes — without the downside of toxic mercury,” reports, “For example, a 60-watt incandescent light bulb draws more than $300 worth of electricity per year and provides about 800 lumens of light; an equivalent compact fluorescent uses less than 15 watts and costs about $75 of electricity per year. LED bulbs are even better, drawing less than 8 watts of power, costing about $30 per year, and lasting 50,000 hours or longer.”

In short, LEDs are actually more energy-efficient and don’t contain mercury which makes them the more sustainable option. In the past, the initial cost held folks back from this option — commercial costs for LEDs is finally coming down.

For businesses curious about their energy consumption, we offer a free interactive Energy Audit!


Image credit: bill barber