MANCHESTER – The Orvis Outlet Store has become a showcase for one of Efficiency Vermont’s latest energy-conservation experiments: Light-emitting diode lamps for retail stores.

Orvis personnel replaced about 300 lamps in the outlet store last summer. According to the company, the store has used 8,400 fewer kilowatt hours a month, which has saved almost $900 a month in electricity.

The LED lights are cooler than incandescent lights so the store also saved on air-conditioning costs.

Charles Clerici, with Efficiency Vermont’s business development services, said his group and Orvis, which has its headquarters in Sunderland and flagship store in Manchester, had determined last year that the project would provide enough energy savings that Efficiency Vermont could subsidize about half the installation costs.

“This LED project was one of the first of its kind in the state of Vermont. LED is a very promising technology but getting early adopters is always a critical path to getting success with the technology,” he said.

Orvis’ Director of Technical Services K. John Smith said the challenge was to find a lamp that was more efficient than incandescent lamps but also showcased the store’s products well.

“Everyone said, ‘Put (compact fluorescent) bulbs in your stores.’ Every time we did that, our retail design people said, ‘No, the colors aren’t right anymore. The color of the product inside isn’t the same as the color of the product outside.’ … What we found with LEDs is the coloring is much more true to natural light,” he said.

The LED lamps also fit into the store’s existing fixtures. Because of the width of compact fluorescent lamp bases, they don’t always fit into standard fixtures.

Smith said the LED lamps last an estimated 40,000 hours so they shouldn’t need replacement for nine to 10 years. Fluorescent bulbs lasted about 10 months in the outlet store.

The LED lamps were purchased from Maine-based Eco-Story. Most of the company’s LED bulbs sell for between $45 and $85.

According to Smith, Orvis expects to recoup its costs on the lamps in a little under a year and may expand the use of LED lamps to its flagship stores and other retail stores in its chain.

Orvis has made a commitment to carbon neutrality by 2020 because many believe that manmade carbon waste in the atmosphere is creating global warming.

Efficiency Vermont Senior Project Manager Dan Mellinger said the independent nonprofit was “not necessarily supporting (LED lamps) across the board” but wanted to continue to test their performance, the lamps’ longevity and other factors because it had shown promising results to date.

Orvis is a globally-known retailer of outdoor lifestyle products, especially fishing equipment.

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