From a Lay Leader's Desk

A series of opinion articles from lay leaders in our synod.


Retrofitting your Church with LED Lights will save about 50% annual Electric Energy costs

Mar 05, 2020

By Lisa Reisner, chair of the Finance Committee at St. John's Lutheran Church, Merrick

PSEG has an Energy Efficiency Program which rebates up to 70% of the cost of buying the LED Lights.  St. John’s Church, Pastor Perry Kirschbaum, Merrick, NY, has recently completed such a change from conventional lighting to LED Bulbs, with a 50 %  estimated savings on our annual Electric Bill on going.     

Overall, we spent about $2,000 on the price of new LED light bulbs in all the Electrical fixtures. (big church).  We expected to get back about $1500 on the rebate. These new light bulbs are estimated to last about 13 years and to decrease the Electric Bill by at least 50% each and every month.  Quite a savings!  So your Church is responsible for about 30 % of the cost of the new bulbs. The savings realized on on-going electrical costs should pay that cost off in about 4 months.  

The only difficult thing about this installation is with the florescent tubes. The 'screw-in' bulbs went in easily, with no problem. The florescents however, have to be rewired which is a little tricky initially. However the company that obtains the bulbs can show how to do it easily.   

Step 1: Call the PSEG energy efficiency number: 1-800-692-2626 to find out what’s available in your area and to arrange for a Free Energy Audit of your lighting.   Once this is done, the auditor provides you with an estimate of potential savings of changing out your lighting to LED. He will also give you a listing of PSEG approved sources for the materials, ie contractors.  

(If you know what you're doing, you can order the Light Bulbs yourself on-line and not have to pay a contractor's prices).   

Step 2: Review their Audit and complete a list of all existing fixtures in your church.  St. John’s completed this analysis because we decided to purchase the required bulbs/LED materials from a vendor, and do the install ourselves, to save money.  Labor to install the screw-ins is easy, the florescents will need some of your more skilled people.    PSEG will not rebate Labor costs to install the materials or modify the existing fixtures if required.  

Step 3: Complete the install, either with volunteer labor or with subcontractor.  A subcontractor is expensive. We made this into a Thrivent Action Team project, and applied $250 towards the cost of the materials.  

The install took about an 8 hour work session with a work crew of about 10 persons to make the change out and modifications.  

Doing the work ourselves, lent a great community feeling and helped us all get to know each other. We served a light Breakfast and a Pizza Lunch.        

We brought cleaning supplies, rags, cleansers to clean the glass of the fixtures as we completed the install. We also needed ladders, step stools, and used a scaffold borrowed from a parishioner to complete work in areas with higher ceilings, like the Sanctuary, along with other supplies like wire cutters, wire nuts etc. to make revisions to the florescents. 

Step 4: After the install is completed, the vendor or contractor submits the paperwork to PSEG and waits for the inspection for the rebate. We used Wil, HISUN Lighting, East Meadow, 917-969-5668.   

He was affable, and efficient, showed us what to do.  We'd certainly recommend him.    

PSEG will give you a Time estimate to get reimbursed when you first apply.  For us, it was 2 months.  This also helps the environment as the electric is not so much of a drag on resources.   

Obviously, each Church has to assess if they need or can afford to hire a contractor or have volunteers with a little know how to complete the work themselves.  

In the final analysis, yearly saving on usage coupled with the rebate savings may make this a very worthwhile program to consider.