Tim Hortons converting to energy-efficient LED lighting

Erin McCabe comments@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on May 11, 2014

Corinne Preston, district manager for Tim Hortons in Charlottetown, is preparing for the introduction of energy-saving LED lighting in Island stores. Guardian photo by Nigel Armstrong

Your Tim Hortons coffee might just taste a little bit greener in the future.

That’s because Tim Hortons restaurants around the country will be converting to energy-saving LED lighting.

By the end of this year, 485 Tim Hortons locations will have converted its halogen or fluorescent bulbs to LED. The company hopes that by 2024, all of its franchises in Canada and the U.S. will be outfitted with these energy-efficient lights.

Tim Hortons says this conversion is part of the company’s continued efforts toward sustainability and environmentally friendly practices.

“At Tim Hortons, we are always looking to new technologies and designs to improve energy efficiencies in our restaurants and reduce our overall environmental footprint,” says John Macey, manager, sustainable design, in a release.

By the time the 485 locations are converted by the end of 2014, the expected annual energy savings will be 18,336 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity.

Andy Collier, the energy programs officer with P.E.I.’s Office of Energy and Efficiency, says due to the decrease in cost of LED light bulbs, they’re becoming more accessible.

“Even two years ago, LED bulbs were almost prohibitively expensive,” he says, “They’ve come down in price quite a bit and the market is growing.”

He says LED light bulbs are about 85 per cent more efficient than the standard incandescent bulb. While incandescent light bulbs last approximately 1,000-2,000 hours, LED light bulbs can last from 25,000-50,000 hours — 25-50 times longer.

“Incandescents have about 10 per cent efficiency. About 90 per cent of the energy goes to waste heat,” Collier says, referring to how because the bulbs give off a lot of heat, this reduces the bulb’s lifespan.

Collier mentions there are many other benefits to using LED light bulbs compared to incandescent, or compared to the halogen or compact fluorescent bulbs found in Tim Hortons.

For example, he says, LED light bulbs do not have mercury inside of them, or a glass casing, so they can be thrown right into the waste instead of being disposed of separately.

“And because you don’t have to replace (LED bulbs) nearly as often,” he adds, “We’re also reducing waste.”

Tim Hortons has partnered with Royal Philips in this initiative, who says LED bulbs use about 40 per cent less energy than the fluorescent bulbs found in the restaurants.

Collier believes it was a smart move for Tim Hortons to make the switch.

“Just for financial reasons, I would imagine it’s a good idea for Tims to do that, never mind the environmental benefits,” he says.

He says even though it may cost more at the outset, the conversion will benefit the company in the long run.

“There are some upfront investment cost there, but their operating costs for the restaurants for the next five or seven years before those bulbs burn out — you know, I think it’s a pretty good investment.”