Bright idea

Grand Forks, ND, Building Equipment Mechanic Wayne May prepares to install safer and more efficient light fixtures in the vehicle garage.

How much does it cost to change a light bulb?

You might be surprised, according to employees at the Grand Forks, ND, Post Office.

For years, the office used high-pressure sodium lights in the garage. The lighting was expensive, outdated and performed poorly. Each burned out bulb cost more than $100 to replace.

Then managers got a bright idea: They decided to install a new lighting system that used LED lights. The bulbs have a 20-year lifespan, cut electricity use and are maintenance free.

The projected 10-year savings — including recycling and maintenance costs — are approximately $125,000.

“It’s a large initial outlay,” said Maintenance Supervisor Ron Jensen. “But if you can cover costs within two years, you’re picking up all those savings that can be used to address other needs.”

The lighting makeover has been expanded throughout the Post Office. Ninety-two lights will be replaced with new LED fixtures as they burn out, Jensen said.

The LED switch helped Grand Forks win one of this year’s 10 Postmaster General Sustainability Excellence Awards.

“We now have a facility that is safer, uses less electricity and costs less to operate,” said Postmaster Travis Larson. “It’s really a win all-around.”