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Flathead schools upgrade to LED lights saving money, helping students

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Posted at 3:10 PM, Sep 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-19 17:10:14-04

New LED lights installed in the Kalispell school district and Columbia Falls high school are saving the schools thousands of dollars and helping students focus in class.

Columbia Falls Superintendent Steve Bradshaw says that switching to LED lights has saved the high school approximately $50,000-to-$100,000 annually. However, he told MTN News the biggest benefit LED lights have are for the students.

While the old fluorescent lights would flicker and buzz, the new LED lights make barely any sound and provide lighting that more natural.

"The biggest benefit I think is to the kids because the old fluorescent light bulbs flicker and you have some special needs kids who it can really have an impact on," explained Bradshaw.

Right now, only Columbia Falls high school has LED lights but Bradshaw says he hopes that the district's $37 million bond request passes so all of the district’s schools can have LED lights. Ballots are mailed out this week and are due back on Oct. 8.

Flathead schools upgrade to LED lights saving money, helping students

Brad Kastelitz, senior engineer with Ameresco, a company focused on creating and saving energy, estimated Kalispell public schools has saved $60,000 by switching to LED lights.

Kalispell Superintendent Mark Flatau told MTN News the extra money saved goes back to benefit the schools.

"Part of that savings initially is used to pay for the upgrades that occurred, but over time that will result in dollars that will remain in our general fund. You know, that could be used towards education," said Flatau.

LED lights have an average life span of five to seven years, reducing the frequency lights need to be changed.

Flatau added that he's personally noticed a difference in his work with the new lights. Before, with fluorescent lights, he would rarely turn his lights on because of how harsh they were.

"I'd pass on even sometimes turning my lights on. Depending on how bright the outdoor lighting was," explained Flatau.