LED (light emitting diode) systems have increasingly come on the scene for their concentrated beam, low energy use and long life span.


For instance, Star Market, a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Supervalu, is scheduled to open its first all-LED store Oct. 30. The store is in Chestnut Hills, Mass., and will feature LEDs inside the store and in the parking lot.


Retailers who fail to upgrade to LED lighting are wasting hundreds of dollars a day in energy and related costs, according to a new white paper from Nualight Ltd., a manufacturer of LED lights. Access the white paper at Nualight.


Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark., was one of the early retail adopters of LED lights. In 2006, the firm used GE Ecomagination LED lighting to retrofit low- and medium temperature refrigerated display cases in 500 stores.


The retrofit saved Wal-Mart $2.6 million in energy annually, according to GE, and reduced the retailer’s carbon-dioxide emissions by nearly 35 million pounds a year.


At the typical retail operation, more than 35% of all energy consumed comes from refrigerated and frozen display cases. Traditionally, such coolers have used incandescent or fluorescent lighting, both of which generate considerable heat. By using heat-generating lamps, the coolers are actually having to work double time, the white paper notes.


Using the example of refrigerated glass door displays, retailers can cut energy consumption by up to 60% by switching to LED lighting, according to Nualight.


United Supermarkets LLC, Lubbock, Texas, retrofitted formerly fluorescent-lit display cases with LEDs in 47 stores. The energy saved was able to pay off the investment in 1.8 years, according to GE, which handled the retrofit.


GE has made a big business of handling such retrofits. Since it started doing so in 2006, it has sold in excess of 500,000 LED refrigerated display case lights.


In addition to the inherent energy savings in switching to LEDs, in many areas of the country there are utility sponsored rebate programs that encourage energy efficiency, including adoption of LED lights.


Normally, the rebates don’t come until after the lighting is installed. In some cases, however, the savings come in a customized program, in which retailers are rewarded based on the number of kilowatts saved by switching to LEDs.


As an example of a utility sponsored program, National Grid, an energy company in the Northeast, offers retailers up to 50% savings for the entire cost of upgrading. (See www.thinksmartthinkgreen.com for more details).


NSTAR, a Massachusetts utility, offers rebates of up to 50% of project costs.


Retailers and wholesalers alike can learn more about utility rebate programs in their operating areas by checking the Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Energy (www.dsireusa.org).