Lighting normally makes up the highest portion of a commercial building’s monthly electric bill, according to ENERGY STAR. And up to 4% to 5% of that bill goes toward air-conditioning to counteract the heat being generated by these lights.
By focusing on the largest user of electricity in your facility, you can expect to see cost reductions and improvements to commercial lighting efficiency. These no-cost and low-cost ideas may help you rein in costs by decreasing the amount of energy required by your building’s lighting system.
- Unplug unused or rarely used fixtures, like task lighting or floor lamps. As long as they’re plugged in, these fixtures sometimes draw energy…even if they’re turned off.
- Install occupancy sensors. These sensors can detect sound or heat and motion to determine when lights should be on or off in conference rooms, storage areas, restrooms, etc.; they also eliminate the possibility of someone forgetting to turn off the lights.
- Install dimmers. The U.S. Department of Energy says that less than 30% of commercial buildings have installed dimmers or sensors. But, according to Lutron, every dimmer saves 4% to 9% in electricity, even at the highest lighting levels. When lights are dimmed, even more electricity is saved.
- Replace incandescent exit signs with CFL or LED signs. By doing this, you’ll reduce lighting usage by 33 to 39 watts per sign: incandescent signs consume 40 watts, while CFL signs consume seven watts and LED signs consume one watt.
- De-lamp when possible. By removing lamps and disconnecting ballasts in over-lit spaces, you can save energy while still providing enough artificial light.
- Turn off lights if you’re leaving a room…as long as they’re not CFLs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if you’ll be out of the room for less than 15 minutes, leave the lights on if they are CFLs. Because the operating life of CFLs is affected by the number of times they’re turned off and on, you’ll save more energy this way.
- Drive by your building at night to see which lights are on. This could provide valuable information about whether or not occupancy sensors, timers, and other lighting controls are working.
- Make use of daylight when possible. There’s no need to have overhead lights on if the space is properly lit with natural light. If you’re using daylight in your commercial building, make sure steps are in place to reduce glare and solar heat gain, and protect against fading.
Have you implemented any of these commercial lighting solutions? Are they working for you? Do you have any ideas to add to this list?