Only if you add in a “maintenance cost” fudge factor.
The Wall Street Journal reports,
… LED bulbs cost as much as 20 times more than their conventional counterparts. Energy savings are an important part of the economics. Lighting can account for a third of a big store’s energy costs, and LED bulbs can cut lighting bills by three-quarters…
A 2009 case study by the U.S. Department of Energy on a Wal-Mart parking lot in Leavenworth, Kan., however, shows energy savings alone may not justify the cost.
The DOE compared LED lamps to a typical parking-lot lights and found the cost of the LED lamps plus energy bills over 10 years were higher than for the older bulbs.
That balance will change as the cost of LED bulbs comes down—they’ve already fallen 30% since 2009—but for now it’s lower maintenance expenses that are allowing companies to recoup the upfront costs in less than three years, a key threshold for bean counters.
“Instead of replacing a bulb seven times a year, now you’re talking about not touching a bulb for four or five years,” said Eric Dominguez, Caesars Entertainment’s director of energy services. Workers then can be shifted onto other tasks, Mr. Dominguez says.
But labor costs can be hugely variable while the purported 10-year margin of savings (assuming not too much fudging) is slight.
If this is the best the LED industry can do, its products aren’t ready for prime time either.