Bethesda Systems Helps Client See the Light

Two men walk into your home with A black duffle bag. You have never met them before.

They’re preparing to take things from your home: inefficient light bulbs. This summer, homeowners Tim and Shawn Shaw went on a diet—the LED Diet. The two men who showed up at their door with the big black duffle bag are LED Dietitians. Their bag isn’t empty though; it’s fully loaded and heavy.

Fully loaded and heavy with a variety of 30 different LED bulbs, that is. At least one of these bulbs is guaranteed to be the perfect solution to an inefficient or poor quality light source. The Shaws were not well-versed in LEDs at first. Placing such seemingly modern and new technology into their home was foreign to them.

“When Jon and Gino arrived, we did not know what to expect,” said Tim Shaw, homeowner, husband, and father of three. “We never really considered our lighting as more than a necessity, so replacing our incandescents with an efficient alternative didn’t really cross our minds.”

Jon Stovall, creator of the LED Diet, and Gino Hefner, the first ever LED Dietitian, offered high quality, energy efficient LED alternatives to almost every light throughout the home: kitchen, living room, bedroom—you name it, they replaced it.

Going through their whole home, Stovall and Hefner helped the Shaws realize how much better their light could be, but they did not stop there. Stovall and Hefner offered to also replace the Shaw’s thermostat with a new Nest Thermostat.

The home’s Nest lives by the main entrance in the front hallway. The front of the home is clad with windows, letting plenty of natural light in—including onto the wall where the thermostat is located. During the summer, if it’s sunny out, the sunlight hits the thermostat directly by about 10:00AM, and is under the sun all day.

Casting an intervention, the dietitians held the Shaw home to a challenge: how much less energy would they consume by only replacing bulbs and a thermostat with more efficient alternatives and not changing anything about their lifestyle?

The Shaws promised to not change a thing about their living habits. And, approximately two months later in August, the Shaws saw a drop in their utility bills. As for a change in lighting and comfort: there have been only improvements according to the Shaw family.

“Our kids noticed the difference right away in the quality of light,” said Shawn Shaw, homeowner, wife, and mother of three. In each of their rooms, they use only one lamp, and changing that one lamp to LED has given them the ability to see brighter, and better.

The same goes for the laundry room, a small space connecting the main house to the garage.

“Now I’ll be able to actually see what I’m doing in here!” Shawn said upon the single bulb being upgraded.

The bill for August 2013 was about $80 cheaper than it was for the previous month, and they will save 25% on their entire electric bill every year.

The Shaw household will probably never change another light bulb—their home uses more than 80 lamps—for at least another 15 years.

“It baffles me,” said Tim. Based on their current energy usage, their new energy savings alone will create a return on investment for their home in under three years.

Within 10 years, the family will have already cumulated an extra $16,000 just by not having to replace old, burnt out, inefficient bulbs.

In regards to their new Nest Thermostat, they barely touch it. The Shaw family noticed: the Sunblock feature must actually work.The Sunblock feature allows the Nest to automatically adjust to direct sunlight, enabling it to avoid offsetting or misleading temperature changes.

“We installed a smart meter to help monitor changes in energy consumption at the start of this challenge,” Tim Shaw said. “Now that we’ve really seen how much our house can reap the benefits of our efficient technology, we’re going to start employing more efficient practices to really change our impact on the grid.”


Lighting Upgrade Cooked Just Right


Yamas, a Bethesda, Md. Mediterranean restaurant, utilizes spot lighting throughout restaurant to light up the bar, wall seating, booths, and menu. The restaurant is small, but unfortunately, even with all the lighting they had, it was still too dark.

The lighting was all over the place, literally and figuratively. Different bulbs were used in one track lighting scheme. Some of the halogens gave off blue light, and others gave off white or yellow light.

Yamas owner, Tony Alexis, said he received recommendations for his lighting, and light bulbs, from his meat guy.

The lighting was intended to be more efficient, however, the lack of a lighting specialist left the restaurant looking unorganized and dim, until Bethesda Systems came along.


After an LED retrofit by Bethesda Systems, the owner and employees of the Mediterranean restaurant were astonished, and pleased.

Restaurant manager Diana Ziscovici was caught by surprise.

“I never realized the lighting was so off!”

The lighting before the retrofit was inconsistent. Some bulbs, even when on, did not even light anything up. Half of the restaurant was lit, the other half was dark.

Now, the lighting was even, bright, and the color it was intended to be.

“When our staff came walking in the day after the installation, they told me the restaurant looked much cleaner,” Ziscovici said.

The difference in the bar area, menu by the entrance, and dining area left the restaurant actually shining, and, more over, the restaurant is now saving an immense amount of energy. By going LED, the restaurant now saves over 80% on energy that is expended through lighting. This equals over $1,500 in annual energy savings.

“We’re very pleased with how Bethesda Systems helped us get such a great deal, and better look,” said Ziscovici.

Parking Garage Safety

People are taught safety precautions when navigating parking garages at night. They are encouraged to walk in groups of three or more, and if someone is alone, an escort is typically always encouraged.

A commercial building complex in Colesville, Maryland suffered from extremely poor lighting throughout the property—parking garages in particular. Parking garages, unfortunately, are risky areas for public safety due to its enclosed structure and cars everywhere, creating hiding spots, and most of all, darkness.

“It was scary. The garage is very dark, and in the middle of the night, when no one was around outside, it felt even scarier,” said a parking garage patron.

At Colesville, the garages were nearly pitch black. The lighting was ineffective and also wasteful, but more notably, a cause for grave concern from its patrons. Those who work in the complex were, at times, scared for their safety when trudging into the parking garage alone. With the help of Bethesda Systems, though, the garage received a major upgrade.


No more darkness over cars. All corners of the garage are lit. The ramp to the stairwell has nothing hiding it. With an LED upgrade, poorly functioning fluorescents and incandescent lights are hidden for good. Thanks to the efficiency of LED lights, patrons are able to see what is going on in the garage in its entirety. The public travels safer due to better lighting.

“I had someone escort me to the garage from time to time because I was scared to go alone into the dark,” the property manager said. “The lighting is much brighter now. I can see everything much better now. I don’t feel endangered.”

All LED lights are already retrofitted to fit into existing fixtures. Due to Bethesda Systems’ selection of high-quality LED lighting, the property manager and maintenance team are saved time and money–and receive lighting that enhances the safety of the building’s occupants.

Case Study: Winery

At a winery in Olney, Md., the atmosphere is all about enjoying good wine, and making it fun. Customers can enjoy making their own wine with imported grapes from the most renowned grape-growing regions of the world. Unfortunately though, at a bar where ambient lighting is key, owners grappled with setting the mood for their customers.

“We had the most difficult time trying to adjust the lighting where we wanted it,” said the winery owner. “The old lighting made the fixtures too hot to touch, so we couldn’t rearrange the lighting with the lights on, making it a big hassle since we continuously needed to turn the lights on and off.”

The owner was frustrated with his lack of lighting control. Track lights using halogen lamps lined the walls to highlight the multitude of wines the winery offered. The halogens shined light in every other direction instead of just the wine, though.

By replacing the halogen lamps with LED lamps, the winery now has better lighting. There are no more spotlights creating bubbles around the wine racks, and each lamp on every track can be adjusted easily.

Bethesda Systems’ sales people Tracy Lowe and Andy Cabrera were able to implement lighting design for the winery owner immediately after installing the new LEDs into the track lights.

“I used to receive complaints from customers about how poor my lighting was. Since the retrofit, I’ve received praise for the upgrade,” said the winery owner. “Tracy and I took a look at the place from outside. It looks completely different—much more sophisticated.”

New lighting dimmers for their track lighting will provide ambient lighting for nighttime wine-tastings, and help the winery to save more money from lighting settings during the warmer seasons.

Opening in September 2012, the winery was not able to experience summertime wining.

After learning how much energy the previous lighting used, the owner was scared to find out what the operating costs would become once it became warmer out.

“Before we replaced their bulbs with the LEDs, I took a measurement of how much energy was being used to power one of the circuits,” explained Bethesda Systems electrician Chris Adams. “Before, it was eating 1,800 watts. With the LEDs in, it’s only consuming 300 watts.”

Over the summertime, the wall-sized glass windows will bring in optimal sunlight, meaning even more heat. New LEDs will lower energy bills for the winery because less heat will be given off from inefficient lighting. Since less heat will be emitted, HVAC costs will go down, consistently saving the winery at least $1,100 per year on energy and maintenance costs.

Case Study: Winery


Bethesda Systems Upgrades Children’s Inn at NIH

The Children’s Inn at NIH has an all-purpose room for their residents, where the children can watch movies and hang out. In addition, this room serves as a conference room for board meetings. Earlier this summer, the Inn reached out to us seeking a much-needed renovation of this room.

Reaching Out

Bethesda Systems was happy to help. We provided an all-in-one solution, featuring a new projector and a new server for the room. In addition, we transformed each child’s room into smart media room, where they are now able to stream movies, and use the internet right from their own televisions. With several donations set up by Bethesda Systems, the Children’s Inn paid less than half of what the initial renovation costs were.

Andy Cabrera, Bethesda Systems: “The room looked like a school cafeteria before. It was plain, and not livable. When we took on the project, we wanted to create a warmer atmosphere where these kids can really relax on a Friday night.”


We were able to partner up with Runco, a home theater projector manufacturer, and Kaleidescape, another business focused on home entertainment, to provide the Children’s Inn with free new products. Runco donated an LS 7 projector, and Kaleidescape donated a Cinema One movie server.

With the Cinema One movie server, the Children’s Inn was able to upload and store over 25 DVDs for children to watch on the theater system, or in their own rooms. Also featured in the all-purpose room is Apple TV.

In addition, Cuddlebag also donated four of their products to the Children’s Inn too!

Smart Media Rooms

In each room, we incorporated the Google TV interface using Verizon FiOS. Samsung flat panels were installed as well, on an evo wall system.


Case Study: Crestron System Install

ST. MICHAELS, MD — Our merger with Boulevard Audio adds expertise in Crestron automation systems. This case study highlights BA’s award-winning* project in which home automation and systems management had to integrate into a very sophisticated interior design.

This home represents the best of “green” initiatives for its environmentally sensitive response to the historic Chesapeake Bay location.

From seven strategically located touchpanels within this 4500 sq ft house, the Crestron system controls and monitors:

• 50 circuits of interior and exterior lighting
• 8 zones of shade and drapery control
• 10 zones of HVAC; the security system
• 11 surveillance cameras
• 7 sump pumps which include a custom-designed switching system to alert hazardous water-levels;
•  10 audio and video sources distributed to 15 speaker zones.

1. Chesapeake estate. 2. Bedroom sitting area with TV and controller.

The automated Crestron lighting control system, then, follows the diurnal cycle while still allowing the homeowner to make periodic changes to the timing, lighting level, and selection.

Crestron heat and humidity probes and thermostats are used to monitor even the most minute (less than 1 degree) changes in temperature.

There is a built-in weather station interface that receives real-time information from the National Weather service. This feature faciliates real-time adjustments for energy consumption systems from both inside the home as well as remotely through a secure Crestron “X-Panel” interface.

Equally important to this homeowner was a home that would fit into its historic setting, be beautiful, and easy-to-use where the electronic “gadgetry” was subordinate to superior interior design. These goals were met by close coordination between Boulevard Audio, Inc. and its consultants and Thomas Pheasant, Inc., the world-renowned interior designer. This home was featured in Architectural Digest.

Clockwise from Top Left: 1. Pool. 2. Kitchen touch panel. 3. Equipment Room 4 & 5. Living Room

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Case Study: LED Retrofit

A popular local Bethesda sports bar has been a longterm Bethesda Systems client. The lighting throughout the bar was outdated and costly from a replacement and maintenance perspective. Management grew tired of changing light bulbs and their increasing energy bills.

The bulbs they used before the retrofi t constantly burned out. The bar went through 10–15 bulbs per week, and their lights were on for at least 14 hours per day. The owners grappled with the growing expenses and time devoted to constantly restock the bulbs, as well as continually climbing ladders throughout the entire bar several times per week in order to replace the lights.

On their older system, half of their lights would not dim due to overheating issues on the circuit. For example, over one of their bars, the dimmer switchers did not work properly, and bulbs would go off at random.

Bar Co-Owner said, “We’ve been told these bulbs last much longer. During the summer, this is huge for us because there is much less heat produced from the lighting. Bethesda Systems also added dimmers, making it simple for universal settings and usage all over the bar.”

The retrofit was an easy decision when we presented them with an upgrade yielding energy savings, reduced maintenance, better quality light and general information behind the benefits of going LED from incandescent or halogen bulbs. With not only an LED retrofi t completed, but an update to their automated control system for lights and HVAC, this sports bar became eligible for PEPCO utility rebates. Management now deals with less maintenance, a greener business, and lower energy costs.

Gary Hefner, Project Leader, Bethesda Systems said, “Some lights weren’t on due to circuit overload from excessive wattage. Bulbs were exploding, and the bar was paying a fortune to PEPCO. After the retrofi t, there was a major heating difference since no more halogen or incandescent bulbs were being used, allowing the bar to no longer run their air-conditioning as hard, thus allowing them to save additional energy.”

Lighting Retrofit Downloadable PDF

Whole Home System/Control Upgrade

POTOMAC, MD — This customer was ready for an overhaul to the Control4® look, so when the new interface launched he was first in line. His first remarks were, “The system is a lot faster”. But wait — there’s more: The upgrade enables the customer to easily access one-page control over lights and lighting scenes, thermostats or audio zones. There is no longer a need to jump from room to room. Control4 2.0 removes the confusion of finding audio and video sources. And with the Listen and Watch icons, one touch lets you see all your available choices associated with those options. But the best and most loved feature of the 2.0 interface is the Favorites option. With this option you can tag any page as a favorite and easily jump to that tagged page from the home page. These are just a few of the many new features that make things easier, more enjoyable, and just plain…better!

L: FAMILY ROOM/THEATER: New custom Bethesda Systems racks with components and wiring neatly contained; Flat screen projection television; wireless remote and docking station. R: LIVING ROOM: Flatscreen with new Control4 Interface screen; in-wall mounted touch screen; Detailed inset.

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