COVID-19 didn't stop energy-efficient improvements at schools in Indiana

Noblesville Schools installed LED lights for big energy savings while schools were closed

While remote digital learning during the pandemic has challenged parents, teachers and students, it opened the door for energy-efficient improvements on school campuses.

With no classrooms to disrupt for multiple months, schools have had a unique opportunity to make updates that students and teachers have been able to benefit from since returning to campus.

Duke Energy customers can get rebates on high-efficiency lights and lighting controls, which can reduce energy use by up to 30%.

Noblesville Schools in Indiana jumped at the opportunity.

“We’re pleased to have been able to partner with Duke Energy to upgrade our lighting to LED flat panels in all 10 of our schools, as well as our administration building,” said David Mundy, associate superintendent of Noblesville Schools.

This project will result in an estimated 4 million kilowatt-hours saved across schools including Hinkle Creek Elementary, Noblesville High School and Noblesville East Middle School.

That’s not the only benefit to LED updates, which, in facilities like schools, are generally replacing 4-foot fluorescent fixtures.

“LED lighting is always improving the quality of light,” said Dan Simpson, with Duke Energy’s Smart $aver® Business Program. “There’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to controlling the light and revising light levels. The products last an extremely long time, so there’s a reduction in maintenance costs. And the initial cost of the changeover is pretty attractive as well.”

LED updates are easy when it comes to energy upgrades for any type of facility, Simpson said. “It’s a pretty painless process.”

Noblesville Schools will save an estimated 4 million kilowatt-hours at schools including Hinkle Creek Elementary, Noblesville High and Noblesville East Middle.

Simpson supported the project through the Smart $aver program, which offers rebates and incentives to business customers pursuing energy-efficient upgrades in lighting, HVAC and commercial food service equipment. Supported by rebates, customers can install high-efficiency lights and lighting controls, which can reduce energy use by up to 30%.

It helps Duke Energy on its path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and it helps customers on their path toward cost savings.

“I love to tell customers the discount on their bill is going to happen,” Simpson said. “It’s going to be provided by the energy-efficient devices they install.”

The Noblesville Schools project was completed in about a year. The end result: an enhanced environment for teachers and students. The savings created by LED lighting should help offset any natural increases in energy rates, as well, Simpson said.

“The Smart $aver program is a great economic stimulus,” he said.

For Noblesville Schools participating in the program, Mundy said, “This is part of our overall energy-savings strategy that allows us to direct more funding to teachers and classrooms while reducing environmental impacts.”