LED Infusion Paves Home’s Greener Upgrade
How do you save $19,500 a year in electricity costs? Upgrade a big system by downgrading its power consumption.
Credit: Don Campbell
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January 21, 2010 by Steven Castle

That’s not all. Chesley integrated into the Lutron System some security motion sensors that had been installed at the corners of the guest rooms and public spaces. Now when the security sensors detect motion, the light in the room stays on. When they don’t, the lights shut off. 

Chesley also created some nice effects with the LEDs. “In the dining room we programmed the lighting over the glass ‘wave’ wall to pulse from the center outward with alternating colors to give the effect that the wall was waving,” McGuinness says.

LED lamps, especially this many of them, don’t come cheap. The cost of this lighting system do-over ran about $60,000—$40,000 of that was spent on just the LEDs—but it resulted in a savings of 51,870 kilowatts of power, or about $1,300 a month.

No More Melting Money
A new snow melt system on the roof wasn’t needed, but some innovative “programming” saves as much as $2,600 during the winter months. “The snow melt system was also the biggest we’d ever done, pulling 400 amps when operating at 100 percent,” says McGuinness. In more familiar terms, McGuinness says that equals 96,000 watts. That, friends, is a lot of juice.

By using Lutron’s wired Maestro switches and an astronomical time clock, Chesley was able to “pulse” each individual zone of the snow melt system during the winter. “Basically all we’re doing is turning the Maestro off for 20 minutes every hour.  By alternating between the 24 zones, we eliminate the possibility of freezing because we don’t have the gutter and eave off at the same time. Because of that the water will always flow.” 

And what to do when the temps dip below minus-10 degrees Fahrenheit? At this temperature the water will freeze in the 20-minute shut-down period, so two exterior thermostats were installed to trigger the systems to turn on. And when it’s 20 degrees outside, which would normally turn on the system, but it hasn’t snowed in two weeks? The system won’t turn on. “By tying into the driveway moisture sensor (installed by the HVAC contractor) we are able to get a signal sent to us when there is moisture present,” McGuinness says. In order for the system to turn on, it has to check the temperature, the moisture and the date. The earliest the system can turn on is Oct. 15.

“The whole first winter was kind of a test, to see if the 20-minute interval was working,” says McGuinness. Fortunately it did, and the homeowner is saving $2,600 a month just in the snowmelt system adjustment—and for an investment of about $4,000.

With a total savings of $3,900 during five winter months, McGuinness figures that the $40,000 spent on the LED lights alone, as well as the $4,000 for the snow melt system programming, will pay for itself in 2.5 years. The total cost will take a little longer, but this downgrade in energy consumption was an upgrade well worth making.

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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.

Installer, Equipment

Electrical and Lighting System
Chesley Electric
Park City, Utah

Lutron Series 8 Processors (2)
PNL 8 Panels (14)
HW-RPM-4U-120 (140)
HW-RPM-4R (8)
HWD-8ANS (15)
SeeTouch Keypads (78)

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