A1 Energy

A “Choose This, Not That” Guide From A1 Recycle

03.12.20 10:44 PM By Denise

A1 Recycle didn’t always exist. We do so many lighting-retrofit projects and were contracting through various recycling programs that we decided it would make the experience better for our clients to bring a lamp recycling program in-house. When we created A1 Recycle, clients were seamlessly brought into the re-lamping experience where they could, with one trusted team, handle recycling of old lamps and the implementation of new LED lights. The in-house move also allowed for some additional costs to be offset for local lamp and e-waste recycling.

If your facility hasn’t quite made the shift from a high-maintenance mercury lamp recycling program to energy efficient LEDs that last longer, we’ve got a helpful “Do this, Not that Guide,” to help along your facility’s path.

"Choose This, Not That" - Maintenance

LED Lamps vs Old Fluorescent Lamps


More time. Facilities maintenance never seems to have an end. Keeping things clean, safe, and well-lit benefits the many assets that allow for a smooth, well-oiled operation.

Are you still using T-8 Fluorescents in your facility? You wouldn’t be the only one. Have you ever considered upgrading to LEDs?

A typical life-span estimate for T-8 Fluorescents (based on an annual usage of 3,000 hours) is 30,000 hours or 10 years. Not bad. The LED tubes have an estimate of 50,000 hours or 16.7 years. Many LED commercial applications run 24 hours a day, and last as long as 100,000 hours.

LEDs improve on your standard service cycle for fluorescent lamps, not to mention the heart-stopping views of maintenance personnel changing out mercury bulbs or ballasts. LEDs are not hazardous. No broken glass from T-8 fluorescents or universal waste cleanups with LEDs either, and the tubes aren’t glass.


Scheduled maintenance for traditional lighting is about every 2-3 years, the lifespan of the lamp. Large scale facilities incorporate this into maintenance time and planning. However, these maintenance hours can be greatly improved and made more efficient. Downtime for lighting maintenance can eat away at a facility's profit. It can also be drastically reduced with LED upgrades that have longer life spans upwards of 20 years.

Forklift operator in industrial warehouse

A mercury lamp breaks:       

“Are you ok?” (Lowers the forklift slowly) 

“Our hazmat crew will be right there. Jeez, I can’t wait till the boss upgrades to LED.”    

The most common reasons commercial and industrial facilities upgrade to LED Lighting:

  • LED lights are durable. They don’t easily break like fluorescent or incandescent bulbs.

  • LED lights last longer (around 20 years) than traditional lighting (2-3 years).

  • Longer lasting bulbs means less time changing bulbs.

  • No mercury or glass with LED, resulting in savings on special hazmat handling.    

"Choose This, Not That" - Cost

average annual energy cost by lighting type graphic


Choosing LED lamps allows for lower energy bills. Pay upfront for the additional cost, or use a utility rebate to get your fluorescent lamps replaced. The savings in costs come from a variety of areas including:

  • Lower energy costs.

  • Lower maintenance costs.

  • Removed recycling program requirements and subsequent fees (as with mercury lamps).

  • Lower liability from removing toxic mercury lamps.

  • Less downtime.

  • More rebates for commercial & industrial LEDs.


If your facility still operates with mercury lamps, having a recycling program that meets your needs is important. But what if you didn’t need one at all? Remove the additional costs associated with mercury lamps that include:

  • Increased purchasing quantity because of their shorter lifespan.

  • Increased maintenance on lamp replacement.

  • Universal waste disposal fees and certificate of proof.

  • Liability if a lamp breaks and staff is exposed to mercury.

"Choose This, Not That" - Hazardous Waste

LED vs Mercury Lamps graphic


Choose LEDs, and if your facility isn’t quite ready to update, be sure to recycle your fluorescent lamps properly. LEDs do not contain mercury and therefore are not mandated to be treated as universal waste.

For some time now, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has decided that its environment needs to be protected. Of course, keeping the environment free of poisonous and harmful chemicals comes at a cost to those trying to keep your facility running smoothly, as the challenge of disposing hazardous fluorescent bulbs factors into that.

If you have no servicer to handle your universal waste, we have a recycling division A1 Recycle. Give us a call (717) 898-8021. We’ll be glad to help set up a customizable program to help you stay in compliance with the universal waste laws for your fluorescent lamps, e-waste, batteries, and ballasts. 

We’ll provide you with boxes and/or fiber drums to help you keep those hazardous bulbs and lamps out of the dumpsters and landfills. We’ll help keep the precious space in your facility clear. 


Mercury Lamps are universal waste. They are dangerous to your employees and the environment. Please don't rely on “out of sight, out of mind” thinking when it comes to handling mercury lamps. All humans are exposed to some level of mercury, however. The level and method of exposure will have varying degrees of health effects. Mercury exposure symptoms and health effects include:

  • Tremors

  • Insomnia

  • Memory loss

  • Neuromuscular effects

  • Headaches

  • Cognitive and motor dysfunction

  • Kidney failure

  • Loss of peripheral vision

  • "Pins and needles" feelings

  • Lack of coordination

  • Impairment of speech, hearing, walking

  • Muscle weakness

  • Damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems

  • Damaging effects on nervous, digestive, and immune systems

  • Corrosive to the skin, eyes and gastrointestinal tract

  • Very high exposure levels can cause death

Fluorescent lamps in trash dumpster

"Choose This, Not That" - Rebates

Utility rebates for LED retrofits


Get rebates. Wherever possible, always take the money to upgrade your facility. The State of Pennsylvania is ready, willing, and able to help your company transition to a more efficient, clean, and profitable future. Take the first step for general information by calling our A1 Energy Team at 717-898-8021.

If you’re looking to convert your facilities, here are a few helpful links here to review:

Database for Incentives & Programs

U.S. Green Building Council

179D Commercial Building Energy Efficiency Tax Deduction

The A1 Energy Team would be glad to help you through these steps for getting the most from your rebate. We have a long history of getting various facility types more substantial rebates than they thought possible. We’re able to do this through our long-standing relationships in the industry that are built on trust, thorough reporting, and experience in securing rebates. 


Saying no to rebates. Saying no to rebates that are available for LED upgrades is forgoing the long-term advantage that goes beyond quarterly profits. Large scale facilities that fail to leverage LED rebates today are paying unnecessarily high energy costs every year. 

Whether it’s a time constraint, or your facility directors need help mapping out your unique ROI and payback period, talk to someone with the expertise to solve your facility’s barriers to a lighting retrofit.

"Choose This, Not That" - Heat Waste

Heat comparison for LED lamps vs old fluorescent lamps


Choose low heat LEDs to eliminate heat waste. Low heat LEDs are like icing on the cake when it comes to accessing the total impact of a lighting retrofit project. What can that mean? When the hot summer months hit, LED lights reduce the need to blast HVAC units and thus save on energy costs during hotter months.


Blast your HVAC to compensate for inefficient lamps that produce too much heat during the summer months. Warehouses and manufacturing facilities can suffer from high heats in the summer months, keeping old inefficient lamps in place can exacerbate this reality and drive up energy costs.

Warehouse light fixtures

"Choose This, Not That" - Productivity

LEDs increase worker productivity graphic


Make your workplace more productive for staff with LED Lighting. What can LED lighting do for you and your workforce? According to many studies, LEDs have been proven to increase worker productivity. Think about it. Better lighting means a quick glimpse, and you move on, not to mention less frustration, and therefore a better mood. Here are some of the greatest productivity benefits LEDs have to offer any workplace:

  • Reduced fatigue

  • Increased vigor & activity

  • Faster reaction times

  • Lower rates of depression

  • 20% improvement in product defect rate

  • 25% decreased absenteeism

  • 33% Mood improvement

  • 8.3% improvement in visual cognitive tasks

  • Improved product quality worth $25,000/year

LEDs improve productivity graphic

If your job site suffers from any of the productivity issues from above, now is a great time to take charge and allow a simple switch like lighting, lighten the mood. 

If you have time to whine then you have time to find solution.”– Dee Dee Artner


Maintain low levels of productivity with old fluorescent lamp lighting. Old fluorescent lamps have been the standard for so many years. Anyone that has worked in a dimly lit warehouse can tell you how frustrating it is, not to mention the inefficiencies it creates. You get used to things; you get used to the mood lighting creates, you get used to maneuvering around clogged aisles, you get used to a lower productivity level. There’s one sure way to change that according to studies, and that’s switching out those old lamps for LEDs.

"Choose This, Not That" - Saving Space

Free up facility storage space graphic


Free up your facility storage space by switching to LEDs. One of the pleasant surprises people find is that they no longer have to store as many lamps. Fewer lamps mean more space to use in other ways besides lighting storage. While fluorescent bulbs have a reasonably long life span, LEDs blow them away with 100,000 hours of life, running 24 hours a day. Use this to your facility’s advantage and free up some space and put it to better use.


Keep storage space piled up with mercury lamps. Space challenges can create organizational inventory challenges. Find space for those back-up ballasts, but don’t forget to make a note of where you put them. It can be tedious keeping track of which boxes need to be shipped off for recycling. One smooth shift for saving space is to remove the hazardous waste component of mercury lamps, which require you to recycle and handle appropriately. LEDs are a great segway to a smoother running facility.

"Choose This, Not That" - Carbon Emissions

Emit less carbon with LEDs graphic


Emit less carbon. Pennsylvania is committed to reducing carbon emissions. Along with the Federal Government, the commonwealth encourages the implementation of LEDs to help reduce energy demand, greenhouse gases, and clean up our environment. A recent study showed that LEDs have reduced carbon emissions by 570 million tons. That is the equivalent of closing 162 coal-fired power plants. 

Neither Pennsylvania nor the Federal Government are being altruistic about this. Energy savings of up to 80% compared to traditional lighting helps commercial enterprises actually reduce their operating costs.


Emit more carbon. Older lamps don't just eat away budgets for energy; they also grow a facility's carbon footprint which, if not corrected while rebates are available, might be costly down the line in unnecessary carbon offsets. By choosing to be complacent on emissions, decision-makers are also choosing to be complacent on business growth as we move into a time where a facility's energy strategy is part of business growth plans. 

Other LED perks that might not be at the top of the Benefit's List

  • LEDs are quiet. Fluorescent lamps with magnetic ballasts tend to buzz and get louder the longer they are in use.

  • LED light quality tends to be very high, giving a bright daylight shine to your facility.

  • LEDs allow for longer purchasing cycles.


The A1 Energy Team is ready to do more than help you stay in compliance with the disposal of your hazardous fluorescent lighting; we will upgrade your lighting, so you don't have to recycle anymore. Our real purpose is to help reduce energy demand for Industrial and Commercial Buildings. We do this with a three-pronged approach:

1. ENERGY EFFICIENCY - We leverage the greatest efficiency measures and rebates for our clients through LED lighting retrofits, smart lighting control systems, retrocommissioning, and energy benchmarking.  More>

2. ENERGY PROCUREMENT - Use our financial and energy expertise to source, negotiate, and oversee the most strategic energy contracts that are tailored to your facility's needs. More >

3. ENERGY GENERATION - Maximize revenue margins and sustainability efforts with on-site energy generation. We help clients reap the most benefits from producing their own energy with Solar PV and CHP Systems. More >

Energy optimization for commercial and industrial buildings graphic