LEDs Produce Big Savings

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United Supermarkets has taken a big bite out of its energy bill by switching to light-emitting-diode (LED) technology. The Lubbock, Texas-based supermarket chain has retrofitted the low- and medium-temperature refrigerated display cases in all of its 47 stores with LEDs.

The project involved replacing the existing lamps—traditional T12 and T8 fluorescent lamps—in the cases with the new solution (LED Refrigerated Display Lighting Solution from Lumination, a GE Consumer & Industrial business). More than 3,600 doors in United Supermarkets’ reach-in freezer cases were retrofitted with the LEDs.

The retailer had two important goals in undertaking the retrofit: It wanted to lower the energy costs in its refrigerated coolers and also improve the look of its product facings. The new lamps fit the bill on both accounts. According to Lumination, the LEDs are designed to provide up to 78% energy savings compared with VHO fluorescent lamps in a five-door fixture, and to have more than two times the life of fluorescent lamps in a cold environment, which reduces maintenance costs. The lamps also provide uniform color and improved product visibility with reduced light-source glare on products.

United Supermarkets expects to save more than $633,000 annually in energy and maintenance savings (with a breakdown of $369,000 in energy savings and $264,000 in maintenance savings). The expected payback is 1.8 years through energy savings and years of virtually maintenance-free service (the lamps have a rated life of up to 50,000 hours).

“Lowering our energy costs is very important to us, and the LED retrofit is providing significant energy savings,” said Michael Molina, VP of facilities and design, United Supermarkets, which operates stores under three banners: United Supermarkets, Market Street and Amigos United.

In a bonus for the supermarket chain, the Lumination LEDs can be turned off at night without any negative impact on performance or lifetime. This capability has allowed United Supermarkets to reduce the total hours of operation for the lighting in its refrigerated coolers from 24 hours each day with fluorescent lamps to 16 hours per day with LEDs.

The retrofit, which represents an annual 2.9 million lb. reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions, also is in keeping with the company’s commitment to the environment.

“Doing all we can to be environmentally conscious is very important to us,” Molina said. “We’re a 92-year-old company now in the third generation of family ownership, and we want to make our operations better now and for the next generation.”

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