In 2010, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced plans to phase out T12 lamps in favor of the newer and more energy-efficient T8 and T5 lamps. The DOE also offered incentives to people willing to make the switch. However, those incentives may expire soon.

This July, U.S. lighting manufacturers will stop production of many T12 lamps in order to comply with DOE regulations. The T12 lamps that are still produced will be much more expensive. Since most T12 lamps will no longer be available, people will be forced to upgrade to T5 and T8 systems. That means the federal government won’t have to offer incentives to retrofit – people will have no other choice. Manufacturers can still sell the T12 bulbs until their stock runs out. Plan to see the price of the T12 increase dramatically as demand becomes greater than the supply.

While upgrading your facility’s lighting may seem costly, the benefits far outweigh the initial costs. Replacing a T12 system with a T8 or T5 system provides energy and cost savings. For instance, by switching to T8 lamps, you can reduce energy use by 33% and save $12 per fixture per year. If you have 1,000 fixtures, that adds up to $12,000 a year in savings.

In addition, T8 and T5 lamps last longer than T12 lamps. Though a T12 lamp lasts for 28,800 hours, a T8 lamp can last for 36,000 hours and a T5 for 52,000. And, upgrading to a T8 or T5 system offers fast paybacks with payback periods of one to three years.

The LED lights retrofit the standard T12 & U lamps are cost effective with an ROI of 1-3 yrs. on average. LED lights run time is 50,000-100,000 hours and come with 3 or 5 year warranties.  Recent improvements in LED technology have caused LEDs to be a superior alternative in many cases. LED fixtures generally use less energy while producing a similar light with good color rendering characteristics. Rebates for LED systems usually fall into a “custom” rebate program, which generally confers more financial incentives from local utilities. When evaluating LED solutions, the high initial cost of LED fixtures can be offset by greater electrical savings, longer life during frequent switching.

A simple, free lighting assessment determines what replacements are needed and gives you a full report on savings, ROI and carbon reduction.

So, if you haven’t replaced your T12 system with a more energy-efficient system, take advantage of those government incentives while they’re still available.