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LEDs Saving District Money

If you drive by Ozark High School at night, it may look a little brighter than in years past. That’s because on Aug. 27, the maintenance department retrofitted all the parking lot lights to LED.

“This is not only a huge cost savings, but it’s helping with safety in the parking lot, as well,” Maintenance Foreman Mark Faught said. 

The old 1,000 watt metal halide lamps were replaced with a 150 watt LED retrofit, giving the District 850 watts of savings per light. And dropping the per-night cost from 85 cents to 12 cents per light adds up fast — to the tune of nearly $17,000 annually. In a short seven months, the retrofit will pay for itself and the District will start seeing that cost savings — and that’s before the rebate. 

“We will still get a rebate on this,” Faught said. “Through Empire Electric, there’s a pool of money where commercial businesses and schools can get rebates. You just have to file the paperwork. Those rebates are saving the District a lot of money.”

In fact, the rebates are typically about half of the total cost of the retrofitting. The first District LED project was completed in 2015 in the main and auxiliary gyms at the high school, costing about $36,000. The rebate gave the District back more than $18,000 of that.

Obviously LED lights are a cost savings, but Custodial Foreman Dennis Faught said the type of light is also better for students, teachers and, ultimately, education. That’s why the maintenance and custodian departments trained on LED lights this summer — so the transition to LED lights can continue throughout the school year. 

“Every custodian is trained to do that now. So eventually all the lights throughout the District will be retrofitted to LED for the same cost as simply replacing the ballast before,” Dennis Faught said. “This is two-fold — these lights are more comfortable and friendly on your eyes, and it will save energy and money.” 

Over the summer, nearly 300 flat panel LED lights were installed at Ozark Middle School and from now on, when old ballasts fail, they will be replaced with the LED light fixtures. 

“You can actually change that flat panel quicker than you can change a ballast, and it’s cheaper to change to LED, too,” Mark Faught said.

By the end of the school year, Mark Faught said he hopes the parking lot lights at all school buildings will be LED. With the transition already complete at OHS, OJH and OMS, and considering how quickly the maintenance department changed the lights in the high school parking lot, that’s a very realistic goal. 

“In a day and a half, we changed every parking lot light at the high school. The maintenance department did a great job. It was a team effort and we all came together,” he said. “By spending this money now, we’re going to save the District money in the long-run.”