Light Emitting Diodes, also known as LED lights, have become commonplace at home, but not so much with houses of worship. It's time that this changes.
For a bit of history, LED lights have been around for almost 100 years, however it wasn’t until the early 2000’s that we started to see them really being used. Where did we see them first? Christmas lights of course! The use of LED Christmas lights drove the cost per bulb down dramatically enough that the economy of scale picked up and we were spotting them more and more in fixtures of various kinds. Since then, incandescent bulbs are hard to get, and hazardous, mercury-containing compact fluorescent bulbs are on their way out. LED lights have been filling all the gaps within the lighting world today.
But wait, weren’t the old bluey-white LED Christmas lights ugly? Certainly! That blue-tinged white is referred to as a cool colour, while the yellow tinge we are familiar with from incandescents is referred to as warm colour bulbs. Fortunately, nowadays, you can buy warm or cool colour LED bulbs to meet your lighting needs. New and improved bulbs have also resolved the issue of brightness, as the old LEDs were not as bright as the incandescent bulbs.
So why should faith community buildings switch to LED lights? Well, what really drives the goal of using LEDs is energy and cost savings. Changing your faith-building lights to LEDs will pay for themselves easily and quickly. As you can see from the chart below, the savings on replacing your bulbs with LEDs is huge, and the payback can be measured oftentimes in months or even sooner (for example, 40 Watt exit lights have the potential to pay back in several weeks). With such large spaces, faith buildings can see drastic reductions in their energy usage when transitioning to LED lights.
From an aesthetics perspective, faith buildings can improve visibility, with brighter bulbs (lumens) as well as purchasing color-changing LED light bulbs (super popular on TikTok), which work via WiFi on any smartphone. This allows congregations to create cost-effective “stage lighting” in their spaces, for holidays, special events, or rentals.
Well, how does my congregation get started, you may ask? In the worship space, I always recommend changing all of the lights at the same time. This is because if you change lights at different times, there will be noticeable differences in the colour and warmth of the various types of lights. Although this isn't as important in other rooms, for the worship space and sanctuary, such disharmony is not ideal. Faithful Footprints participant, Trinity-Providence United Church in Bobcaygeon, Ontario, avoided this problem by installing new LED lights not only in one room but throughout its entire building.
“Now that we have LED lighting throughout our church, our church is a much brighter place!” - Armand Hachey, Co-Chair of Property at Trinity-Providence United, Bobcaygeon, ON
For many congregations, changing lights can be done in-house, with worker bees, no need for professional assistance. New fixtures for the 2-foot and 4-foot fluorescent tubes are designed so that only the bulb needs changing–no messing around with ballasts or fixtures.
“We purchased 14 new light fixtures for the Parlour and Choir Room. Some of our Congregation members installed these new lights at no cost” - Paul Brown, Chair of Trustees & Property Committee at Palmerston United, Palmerston, Ontario
Note: Please make sure to safely dispose of old fluorescent tubes and CFLs.
From Christmas lights to homes, LED lights can also be part of your congregation’s climate effort in becoming more energy-efficient. Pick a space in your building, and begin your transition today!
The more you can learn about your building, the more you can save energy, minimize maintenance costs, and maximize the usage of your amazing faith community building. Utilize our professional knowledge with virtual Green Audits that look at energy, air quality, food, water, waste, maintenance, rental agreements, heritage, and much more.
Faithful Footprints Program
The United Church of Canada (UCC) Faithful Footprints program offers grants, tools and inspiration to help its congregations reduce their carbon footprint. With UCC’s commitment to reducing its greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions 80% by 2050, this one of a kind program offers up to $30,000 in grants towards energy conservation and renewable energy projects (conditions apply).
Faith & the Common Good is the delivery partner for UCCs Faithful Footprints program. To date, we have engaged over 200 UCC congregations, camps, and buildings across the country. Your participation in the program puts your faith into action and helps UCC reach its target.
Stephen Collette is the Building Manager for Faith & the Common Good and can be reached at 705-652-5159 EDT, [email protected]