STAIR lights in 14,000 tenement blocks across the Capital are set to be upgraded in a £9 million bid to make them more energy-efficient.
Around 90,000 bulbs serving up to 84,000 residents will be replaced with light-emitting diode (LED) fittings under new plans, which it is hoped will generate a 50 per cent saving on existing costs.
The city council currently forks out around £2.1m every year for the lighting and is the only Scottish local authority to provide this free of charge to flats accessed by communal stairs.
Most private housing developments built since the 1970s do not benefit from such a service and pay for stair lighting through factoring arrangements.
Housing leaders said the new proposals were aimed at generating significant financial savings over time while ensuring tenements are adequately and safely lit.
Councillor Ricky Henderson, city housing leader, said: “This is a proposed investment in stair lighting across the city – residents will have better-quality lighting.
“Not many people realise that the council does pay for and maintain the stair lighting in all the tenements in Edinburgh and there is a need to upgrade them.”
He added: “To get better quality and more environmentally friendly lighting we will tender for that work.
“The investment will need to be taken out of reserves but will be put back over a period of time because the lights will be more efficient and the maintenance costs will be reduced.”
City bosses have predicted the work will take around four years to complete, with LED fittings costing £6m and associated labour costs a further £2.9m. But it is estimated annual running expenses for stair lighting will more than halve – to £900,000 – after the upgrade is finished.
Housing leaders admitted there had been concerns when street lighting was replaced with energy-efficient alternatives, amid worries urban areas were not being properly illuminated.
They stressed a pilot of the proposed new service had already been carried out in six tenement stairs, with residents who completed questionnaires expressing full satisfaction.
“The new lighting will be tested out [before installation],” said Cllr Henderson. “We will need to check out what type of lighting [contractors] are proposing, what type of fitting, as well as the costs, so there will be that sort of quality testing throughout the tender process.”