The Retrofit Companies Blog

Which TRC topics were most popular in 2016?

In 2016, The Retrofit Companies shared over 40 posts and original articles on this blog. Today, we share the topics that were most popular for you to consider whether you are trying to learn more about LED lighting myths or to better understand mercury waste. Keep reading for links to the most popular TRC blog posts of 2016.

We outline the top 4 Myths about LED Lighting in this popular blog post. Learn why all LED products are not created equal, and find out what factors in 2017 make this technology more approachable and affordable than ever.

 

What is the problem with mercury waste? Is it dangerous? How is it processed and recycled? Get these answers and more by reading "Understanding Mercury Waste." 

 

We share 9 Signs You Should Invest in LED Lighting including factors such as the availability of rebates, monthly utility bills that seem too high, and the need to remain nimble in changing business environments. If any of this sounds familiar to you, you may benefit from this helpful article!

 

This video shows exactly what happens in two instances when linear LED T8 lamps are incorrectly installed. Maybe you are considering these products for your efficiency measures in 2017, but we recommend watching this video and learning more about linear LED T8 replacements.

 

In 2016, TRC was given an Energy Efficiency Partner Award from Xcel Energy. Recipients are given the award "for their outstanding efforts to help customers save energy and reduce their environmental impact." You can see some TRC project case studies on the Xcel Energy website.

 

If you need lighting or recycling service consultations, our staff is ready to help. Contact TRC any time!

Consult a Lighting Pro

 

Consult our haz waste team

Pros and Cons of T8 LED REPLACEMENTS (Links)

T8-LED-Replacement-lamps.jpg

A couple weeks ago we shared a video showing how a T8 LED replacement bulb can catch fire if it is incorrectly installed. Because we have committed to being a vendor neutral company we thought a good approach to understanding this technology, and to help guide your decision making, would be to provide the perspective from many different angles, including a look at how things have changed since the onset of this technology. Here's a link round up of some of the best articles we could find.

"Many believe that the LED tube industry has not matured to a trustworthy level, but manufacturers have improved thermal management, and installations now range from Fortune 100 companies to leading health care institutions to leading higher-education institutions." Read more

This article was published a couple years ago, but "8 Reasons To Consider LED Replacement Bulbs..." still holds strong. Efficiencies, realiability, and product selection have only improved in that time!


When you're ready to make the change, we recommend working with a lighting design professional; however, you may still be interested in how to chooseT12 and T8 LED replacements. EarthLED covers five important considerations in this article.

 

Should You Replace Your T8 Fluorescent Lamps with T8 LED Tubes?

 

We like this article because it digs into details, outlines hands-on testing of a couple popular LED T8 lamps, and discusses the strong points and pitfalls of them.


When choosing between LED and Fluorescent T8 configurations, it may be helpful to consider the ten problems with fluorescent lighting outlined here!

Here's a simple tutorial, How to Install a T8 LED Replacement...and if you haven't seen our video, this is how NOT to install it!

There are safety concerns with T8 LED fluorescent lighting, this article discusses some of the original pitfalls of the technology. We believe that advances in LED technology has been dramatic since that time; however, concerns still ring true today in some respects. "From our perspective, many of the retrofit LED lamps in the market are unsafe. The retrofit tube model with integrated driver just doesn’t work in a secure or reliable way." Be sure you know your system is compatible!


Find out if you're a good candidtate for a retrofit by learning about some common lighting problems:Do you have lighting problems?

 

November Lighting Efficiency & Recycling LInks

Massachusetts proposes 2016-2018 energy efficiency plan to lead the nation with their efforts. Projecting $3 of benefits for every dollar spent!

The tiniest sensor is being developed. It's than half the size of a dime and can be controlled with your smart phone via Bluetooth!

Energy efficiency concerns are global."[UK] Businesses could save £414 million a year by improving energy efficiency.

Warehouse lighting redesign project saves almost $5k annually. 

The future of lighting control innovations will not only save energy and money, but they can extend the useful life of your lighting technology.

We thought this was an interesting article addressing the needs, costs, and concerns with e-waste recycling from a state-level perspective

This article simplifies all the roadblocks for consumers and recycling end facilities. We think it's a really well rounded look at what's going on behind the scenes. 

If you are looking for a reputable recycling option, here are four things you must know to responsibly recycle your e-waste.

Lighting insight, Utility Rebates & More

As summer closes out and the fall season gets into full swing, it is a good time to begin planning for 2016. Surely there are projects looming in your facility, whether you're looking to establish a better understanding of your energy efficiency options, or you've decided to dedicate Q4 of 2015 to researching a lighting upgrade, we've got some links here to get you started.

 

Speaking of planning a lighting upgrade, have you ever considered "The Cost of Doing Nothing?" This simple and impactful video makes project savings so easy to understand.

 

For a deeper dive, you can read our four part series "How much does a retrofit project cost?" Here's part one.

 

Looking to see what sort of utility rebate programs are available in your area? Iowa has 60 programs and Minnesota has over 150! We like this straight forward resource from DSIRE.

 

Your T12 Lamps still work, so why should you replace them?

 

Don't want to read a bunch of articles? You'd rather just talk to a professional about your energy-efficiency options? Tell us what time works for you; we're here!

 

 Schedule a call with our lighting consultant

 

 

Link Roundup: E-waste, Audit Investments, & Clothes Recycling

This small article summarizes the big impact that California’s investment in energy-efficiency has yielded. Includes a nice little infographic, too.

How will lighting impact the future of cities? This writer has some ideas.

 

We’ve shared this story in the past, but it also relates to how lighting even impacts the movies

 

We recycle universal and hazardous wastes like light bulbs, electronics, and chemical wastes, but have you ever considered the process for recycling old clothing?

 

An 18-year-old from Texas invented a water purifier to tackle toxic e-waste pollution. It costs only $20!

 

What is an “investment grade audit?” Here are a couple articles:

Because energy efficiency projects require significant engineering, design, and construction work, investment-grade audits are quite expensive and time-consuming. Plus, they often compete for funding on the corporate level with other potential investments. But since stakeholders are usually focused on return on investment, the guaranteed savings offered by an ESCO and investment-grade energy audit can make them attractive

 

With an investment grade audit you have an RFP you can submit to several vendors. Inviting several firms in to your business to bid the work you want done will inevitably result in an equal number of very different bids left for you to compare. An Investment Grade Audit arms you with a standardized bid document where fixture counts, operating hours, equipment specs, and every other possible project variable -aside from vendor- are the same, making your job slightly easier.

 

get a smart start to your lighting project

 

 

 

 

Irresponsible Recycling, T12 Discontinued & Why Hollywood won't ever look the same

Twin Cities group Community POWER has a recycling collection grant program! “The Community POWER Grant Program funds waste reduction projects. Neighborhood organizations, schools, churches, senior citizen groups, youth organizations, and civic groups are invited to apply for funds for projects that will reach individuals who are not currently involved in waste reduction practices.”

 

The human impact of irresponsible recycling is sadly given a face in this photo essay. “Injuries like burns, untreated wounds, lung problems, eye damage, and back problems go hand in hand with chronic nausea, anorexia, debilitating headaches and respiratory problems. Almost everyone suffers from insomnia. Smoke and invisible toxins (especially cadmium) harm the careless workers because they often don't know about the risks and walk around in flimsy footwear like flip-flops. Most of them die from cancer while in their 20s.

 

Maybe you’ve never considered how a city-wide lighting retrofit could affect the artistic integrity of a place; we thought this story about why “Hollywood will never look the same” was compelling. “Every night exterior LA-shot film previous to this change is rendered a sort of anthropological artifact, an historical document of obsolete urban infrastructure.

 

Americans generated the most e-waste of all countries last year, at 66 pounds per person! In total “generating 9.4 million metric tons of e-waste, followed by China with 7.3 million metric tons.” 

 

This manufacturer offers a wirelessly controlled LED system that looks pretty cool. “Another useful function of smart lights is security. Instead of leaving a few lights on for the entirety of your vacation, in the hopes of fooling a very unobservant criminal, you can control them from the beach…” If you’re interested in a commercial version, let us know

 

T12 lamps and ballasts are no longer manufactured. So, “why do more than 500 million T12 lamps remain in commercial buildings, according to the Department of Energy (DOE, 2010), and why is approximately nearly one in three linear fluorescent lamps sold a T12 (reported by National Electrical Manufacturer Association member sales data for Q3, 2011)?” 

 

 Learn how to find a responsible electronics recycling company

How are we doing? Here's what our customer said...

This is the actual form our customers use to tell us how we're doing:

Customer satisfaction

We have a custom here at TRC, where after every job we complete we ask our customers to rate our service.

  • We ask if the job met their expectations
  • We ask how our crews did
  • We ask if our sales people were professional
  • And we ask if they would recommend TRC to their associates

And here's where we really humble brag - would you believe that our average customer review is greater than 90% satisfaction? It is. 

We share with you case studies of our work, before and after shots and we even have an entire webpage dedicated to the letters customers have sent in response to TRC's work.

All of this not just to brag about it on our blog, but to help illustrate the point that TRC has been here for a long time, our work is consistent, and our customers are happy. We do it to show you that we listen and we want to hear from you.

So, if you have something to say to us or questions for us about energy efficiency, hazardous waste recycling, lighting products, or anything you think pertains to TRC - just ask. We're listening.

Here are a few places you can find us online as TheRetrofitCo:

Google+     Facebook      Twitter

And as always, you can just give us a call if you want. The number is toll free: 800-795-1230.

Are You Making Thanksgiving Energy Efficient This Year?

Maybe you didn't know it, but there are quite a few opinions out there on how to save energy and be more efficient on this holiday associated with maximum consumption. We've put together this roundup of posts about Thanksgiving and Energy Efficiency and we hope you think it's interesting.

 

"...did you know that cooking accounts for 4.5% of total energy use in U.S. homes?  And that figure doesn't include the energy associated with refrigeration, hot water heating, and dishwashing. Added together, that mean that as much as 15% of the energy in the average American home is used in the kitchen.

This holiday season, we wanted to share some easy ways to reduce unnecessary energy use while still enjoying all of your family’s favorite dishes."

 

Here are 9 great ideas about efficiency on Thanksgiving, some that start before and can last all year! "Wasting energy on Thanksgiving? Don't be a turkey. Follow these tips to make sure you're not using more energy than you need."

 

Here are a few thoughts on energy efficient cooking, including tips on leftovers!

 

This one covers the gamut from choosing a 'green' turkey and energy efficient thawing principals to cookware and alternative turkey cooking options!

 

"The preparation and aftermath of a holiday meal can be much more water and energy intensive than your average daily meal. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Impress your friends and family with your water and energy efficient practices around the kitchen."

 

And Finally, if you're looking for ways to be more energy efficient all year long!

Do you have any tips for an energy efficient Thanksgiving to share?

4 Companies in Minnesota Making A Positive Environmental Impact

One of the best parts of our business at TRC is that we get to take part in the efforts that companies make to achieve their environmental and financial goals. It's no surprise that large, medium, and small businesses and organizations have to put more effort towards their success these days, and part of those efforts mean making the best of your resources. Doing more with less. Improving process and taking responsibility for every action. Here's how four companies in Minnesota are sharing their efforts and making their actions known:

Gold'N Plump - St. Cloud, MN

A belief in "healthy food, families and farms" is at the core of this company's social responsibility statements. They have put their message in the forefront by adding the title to their website and making an annual "Farm to Fork Report" available to everyone. They highlight a great amount of information from their employee achievements to reductions in energy consumption and water conservation. 

Carleton College - Northfield, MN

This college campus has a very comprehensive "Sustainability Action Plan" with nine categories for action and improvement including: Green Building, Energy, Waste, Transportation and more. You can even read the savings impact that retrofitting their library had on the college's energy usage and finances. 

Anchor Paper - St. Paul, MN

Anchor Paper simply states their Environmental Policy on their website, acknowledging how the need to minimize their environmental impact can directly affect the bottom line of their business for their company and it's customers. 

Hilton MSP - Bloomington, MN

The Hilton MSP lets it's mission shine in the forefront of every business effort at this hotel location, their motto "Hospitality by nature." From their location adjacent to the a wildlife refuge, they make every attempt to make their business a green and sustainable one. Including an "uplifting" LED lighting retrofit throughout the property, as featured in this Xcel Energy Case Study.

 

What steps or actions has your business taken toward making a positive environmental impact?

 

Could your business be more sustainable?

Energy Efficiency, Electronics Recycling & Solar Flares in the News

“As of now, only ‘forward thinking’ companies consider energy efficiency a strategy for growth. We need to promote this further. There is opportunity here because this is the third resource we have instead of building more power plants.” How banks are extending loans to firms for energy efficiency projects.

 

The most important energy saving technology is not technology, but behavioral changes made by individuals. Would peer pressure make you more energy efficient?

 

Executive Recycling Owner Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Fraud. 

 

Are you protecting your sensitive data? How do you know if your recycler is responsibly handling it? 

 

Why an Easy Energy-Efficiency Bill Is So Hard, claim “No sense of urgency, curse of lowest common denominator”

 

Myths and facts about Energy Efficiency

 

“All LED Lighting Is Bluish White” // Lighting Myth or Fact?

 

Researchers in Hong Kong have discovered that ground-up circuit boards can be used to absorb toxic heavy metals found in water!

 

“When a solar event takes place, the sun shoots out a huge ball of energy. If it comes in contact with the earth’s magnetic field, it produces a current that is really long – 100s of kilometers long and affects things like utility grids, copper-based telecommunications, pipelines, railways.” What does this have to do with energy management? 

 

Get our Guide:

July Links: Ideal Office Lighting, Energy Benchmarking & More

Minneapolis did it and now “Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed an ordinance that would require the city’s largest buildings to benchmark their energy use, and authorize the city to disclose the energy efficiency for these buildings publicly.”

 

How do you know if your office lighting is ideal? GE Looks at 6 Factors Impacting Your Building—and Business

 

New Johnson Controls research shows that energy efficiency interest rose 116 percent globally since 2010, with those who set goals making the greatest strides in reducing energy use.

 

Could sand be the secret to the future of LED lighting technology? This story suggests it could be!

 

Good news for Cheese Lovers: LED lighting produces more milk! "Crazy True Stories About LED Lighting" 

 

The Top Ten Underused Technologies for Saving Energy. See which ones you aren't using.

 

Small Business Administration on Lighting: Depending on the type of business you operate, lighting accounts for 20% to 50% of electricity consumption. This means that significant cost savings can be achieved with energy-efficiency improvements, and due to continually improving equipment, lighting usually provides the highest return-on-investment of major upgrades.


 

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An Electrical Contractor With a Good Reputation?

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Would peer pressure make you more energy efficient?

A Denver Post article asks, “Would you be more likely to cut your energy bill to save a few dollars or to get a gift card and a chance to win an iPod? Would you be more willing to shut off the air conditioner if you will save money or because your neighbors do it?” Would peer pressure make you more energy efficient? Alex Laskey, co-founder of Opower, has done the work to suggest that yes, it would.

In this Ted Talk, Laskey talks about “The Largest Behavioral Science Experiment in the World.” As one of the partners who developed the report used by utility companies to give home owners those energy-efficiency comparisons, his argument persuades the audience that the most important energy saving technology is not technology, but behavioral changes made by individuals. Great food for thought. This eight minute video is eloquent and informative.

Started in 2010, some Minnesota utility customers started receiving these energy report cards. Initial results discussed in this article were in support of Laskey’s argument. 

Energy use has dropped 2 percent to 3 percent because of the program, and most people have been happy with it. "The vast majority say, 'I'm using more energy than my neighbors. What can I do about it?''' About 2 percent have "opted out," with some saying it's "too Big Brotherish," said Bruce Sayler, who manages government relations for Connexus Energy.

Connexus is an electric cooperative that serves several north metro communities and was the first utility in Minnesota to experiment with the program. "We decided to continue the program for the next several years because of the great results," he said.


In 2013, the program continues to succeed in proving that people do care about "keeping up with the Jonses."

As of the third quarter in 2012, “MyMeter” program gave homeowners online access to their utility usage, even offering text and email notifications to users who had set up energy thresholds on their accounts as they approached the goals or limits they set for themselves. Program market planning specialist at Minnesota’s Otter Tail Power says of the nearly three year old program, “Overall we’ve heard very little back from customers, but we do know that they are taking steps to save energy as indicated by the energy savings previously reported.”


Citizens in action

Just last month, in May 2013, Julia Eagles on “More for the Mission” a blog on the Minnesota Historical Society’s website, writes about her experience with creating a more energy-efficient home and utilizing the comparison reports provided by her utility company.

“As you can see from the Home Energy Report we received from CenterPoint Energy in January, we’re using slightly less energy than our most efficient neighbors, but we still used more this year than we did last year at this time, which may be due to chillier winter. I love that utilities have started providing these reports to customers, and the ways it helps make energy usage more tangible and visible.

I share this personal experience and example of my own home, because it’s been a real learning experience.”

June 2013 report

Back in Colorado, panelists at Boulder Earth Conference agree the program works, but wonder how to sustain the important message.

Gabler, director of demand-side management and renewable programs for Xcel Energy Inc. says, "We've achieved up to a 2 percent savings with those reports - but what happens when the reports stop? Will customers revert back?"

Still, "that 2 percent across the entire energy industry is a lot," LeBlanc, president of the Boulder Energy Group and a senior adviser at eSource Companies LLC, said, but agreed that the "keeping up with the Joneses" aspect of the Opower reports could make "social norms a bigger motivator than the numbers. When they see they're using more than their neighbors - but when we tell them they're doing better, they tend to use more. We've got to stop doing that!"

Xcel Energy customers can get a closer look at the program resources online at: https://xcelenergy.opower.com/ei/app/index.html

Troubling Waste News & A 500 Year Old Beauty Gets a Makeover // June Links

She’s 500 years old, but the new lighting is really doing wonders for her looks!

Lawmakers agree on an energy bill with a solar energy standard, but what will be the cost to energy consumers?

Here’s a little more insight on the background of  H. F. No. 956, with comments from German utility CEO regarding the country’s experience with solar power.

“Since Wisconsin launched a program for recycling electronic waste three years ago, the state has collected more than 100 million pounds of e-waste, exceeding targets by several million pounds.” 

For a little sweetness in your day, enjoy this! St. Paul’s Candyland as illustrated by WACSO (Walking Around Checking Stuff Out) “Even the Lights are Candy”

Don’t get caught disposing of illegally disposed hazardous wastes, like this company did!

Exterior lighting and landscaping, and how manufacturers have finally figured out how to ‘warm up’ colors of LED lighting. http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/jun/06/outdoor-lighting/

EPA fines lighting recycler $72K for PCB contamination. Have you audited your recycling vendor lately? 

Newton North High School has the most efficient light bulbs and a sophisticated on line system that allows workers to control energy use remotely. But turning off the hallway lights in the state’s most expensive high school poses a problem. Read more

How LED lighting could be affecting your sleep patterns, and what one scientist is doing to make sure you get your Z’s! 

Looking for new ways to shine on the job and do something positive for your company’s bottom line? How Retrofitting Can Advance Your Career

7 Jobs That Make the World a Better Place…is your job on the list?

Can you trust your energy services vendor to deliver? Several municipalities in the state to have paid money for energy upgrades that were never delivered.

Energy efficiency is of paramount importance, but lighting innovations on the horizon range from smart lampposts that can sense gas hazards to lights harnessed for office productivity or even to cure jet lag!

 

True Cost of Lighting, Energy Saving Tips & Why MOA is full of bugs!

Make the next gift you give a little greener with this re-usable gift wrap idea!

 

Last month (April 22) was Earth Day, here’s how some people celebratedwhat are you doing today to make every day Earth Day? 

 

It can be easy to leave a lonely pun next to the wayside, we're not above picking it up. For the layman, “Watts up with Lightbulbs?” 

 

TRUE COST OF LIGHTING: "How much do CFL and LED bulbs cost compared to incandescent?"

 

Why were these goats – yes, goats – hired by O’Hare International Airport?

 

As consumers, businesses, and cities look cut energy costs, LED lighting has become the lighting technology of choice. The advantages of LED lighting are simple.  They’re long lasting and energy efficient.  Regardless, customers still have reservations.  What Sets Quality LED Lighting Apart

 

Did you read 7 Energy Saving Tips You Can Actually Use Today, Right now!

 

Green Secrets of Mall of America – This mega mall has no central heating system, even though it’s located in the snowy and frozen Minnesota. They also recently released 72,000 lady bugs in the mall. Find out why! 

Share your links to recently read, interesting stories in our comments!

 

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