<p>Wayne Farrell, sales manager at Mullinax Ford, gets a firsthand look at the next generation bulb being shown first at the Orlando dealership as part of the first U.S. demonstration of how auto dealerships can support

Orlando, Fla. — Automotive dealers can soon go digital also while saving big bucks. A technology to convert the stream of electricity that lights dealer lots is having its first test at the area’s largest Ford dealership.

So far, the result is almost a two-third energy-use reduction while delivering the same light output as before. In dollars and cents terms, that means far less load on the local utility and a corresponding cost reduction on electric bills. No pipe dream, the digital approach lets dealers switch from the usual 1000-watt Halide bulbs to a 375 watt bulb of the new high-frequency type.

The nonprofit Emerging Growth Institute (EGI) in Orlando convinced a science group to link its patented digital “brain” to a specialty bulb produced by international giant bulb maker Phillips that will help automobile dealers make the switch to ‘green. It comes on the heels of a national decision to stop selling incandescent bulbs in favor of LED’s.

EGI’s Chairman Michael Shulman views the digital approach as a grassroots way to convince a large user segment to take a major step towards energy use reduction. “When the U.S. government’s decision to eliminate incandescent bulbs means they disappear from shelves, home improvement retailers in the U.S. began promoting LED bulbs that last thousands of hours,” he said. “While the heavily promoted LED (Light Emitting Diode) is touted to last a very long time, the typical homeowner having about 40 of the older bulbs consumers could initially spend up to $800 to change over. Despite the expected overall energy saving, that’s still a considerable amount for ‘down the road’ energy saving for homeowners.

“We thought that the largest impact of the digital approach would be felt if large users such as automotive dealers had another possibility for saving energy. Since auto dealers, who rank highly in the list of those who use large amounts of lighting to promote their vehicles, could cut energy use and not reduce the lighting that assist them is selling cars it would suggest to other large utility users that green is the way to go.”

Mullinax Ford, the area’s largest Ford dealership agreed to test the new idea. A 3-bulb station was converted and the ambient light measured, confirming that it matched the light of adjoining 4-light poles. “With the expected 50,000 hour life of the new bulbs and a guarantee that dealers would save a minimum of 20 percent on electricity cost this could greatly reduce the cost of operating a dealership. At the same time, it allows dealers to support the goal of the Administration that is finding ways to reduce energy consumption,” Shulman said.