Bright Ideas

Eight Lighting Energy and Cost Saving Strategies for Facility Managers

Posted by Joe Lightman on Apr 20, 2016 3:34 PM

Did you know that lighting absorbs at least 20% of a facility’s energy costs? It is also considered the low hanging fruit of energy savings in a facility. Conserving lighting and using more efficient lighting technology can yield substantial energy and cost savings. Today, aside from basic strategies, there are a number of advanced methods to achieve cost and energy savings through lighting.


1. Turn lighting off when not in use

This one sounds obvious, but lighting can be turned off, either manually or automatically in rooms where it is not required all the time – such as copy areas, conference and restrooms. Billions of dollars are spent to light parking garages which has sparked a movement called Lighting Energy Efficiency in Parking (LEEP), a campaign to offer guidance on reducing parking lighting energy and expense. Lighting can be turned off when natural light is sufficient and occupancy sensors can help to regulate lights. Adjusting light levels at different times can also yield energy savings. Night time and during cleaning are periods where energy savings can be achieved by minimizing light output. Reducing the heat output from lighting can also reduce air conditioning costs.

2. Retrofit old lighting systems

 Retrofitting options can vary from replacing entire lighting systems, to switching out fixtures and lamps. In a U.S. Department of Energy study, high performing LED troffers were found to be up to 44% more efficient than their fluorescent counterparts. It’s important when considering retrofits to compare the actual performance of the luminaire, not just the rated lumens, since LEDs can be highly efficient at focusing the lumens where they are needed. Aside from fixtures and lamps, switching to high efficiency instant and program start ballasts are also a good option for energy savings. Certain retrofits offer a faster return on investment, such as replacing exit signs with LEDs, replacing older T-12 fluorescent lamps with “super” T-8 lamps and high efficiency electronic ballasts. Another easy one is replacing incandescent lamps with CFL or LED lamps which use much less electricity and last more than 10 times longer.

3. Use LEDs

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) last up to 25 times longer and use up to 75% less energy than incandescent lighting. LEDs now come in all shapes and sizes, including LED tubes to replace fluorescent tubes. Aside from reduced energy usage and heat output, LEDs have a significantly longer lifespan, which means less maintenance and overall lower costs. While switching to LEDs might involve a high initial cost outlay, depending on the system you are replacing, it might pay for itself in a relatively short time. A number of incentives and rebate programs may also help to reduce the cost of switching to LEDs.

4. Use Lighting Control Technology

Occupancy sensors ensure that lights are only on when they are being actively used. Passive infrared sensors (PIR) can detect heat and motion, and ultrasonic sensors can detect sound. High frequency sensors are similar to PIR but can be mounted behind a glass or plastic lens. Both must be installed correctly to ensure that they are sensitive to human activity rather than other activity in the vicinity (such as ambient noise). Some estimates suggest that occupancy sensors can reduce energy use by 45 percent, while other estimates are as high as 90 percent. Photosensors use ambient light to determine the level of light output for a fixture. They might be used to turn outdoor lights off during daylight hours. Dimming can be used creatively – for example continuous daylight dimming allow electric lights to be unobtrusively dimmed when daylight is available, allowing energy savings whenIndoor_facility_lighting.jpg lighting is in use. Another light control method, light level tuning, can support energy savings by reducing light output at modest levels, not noticeable to the human eye.

5. Improve building design to maximize natural light

Building designs that incorporate a substantial amount of natural light also reduce the need for artificial lighting; in these cases, artificial light may become a supplement for use during the night or when otherwise needed. Architects can play a role by designing buildings to include skylights or windows and orienting these toward the south or west. The term “daylight harvesting” refers to a strategy of harnessing natural light using building control systems such as light sensing and occupancy sensing to adjust the energy use of the HVAC and electric lighting systems. Daylight harvesting can be implemented as part of a retrofit program.

 6. Take advantage of rebates and incentives

Rebates exist in most regions which provide easy cost savings. Energy Star and DLC are two of the common programs available in Canada. In many cases, there is no need to wait for mail-in rebates; the savings can be achieved when a contractor purchases the discounted lighting system through a participating electrical distributor. Toronto Hydro offers a retrofit program which pays incentives of up to 50% of project costs when replacing existing inefficient equipment with high efficiency equipment. It is important to factor in the rebates and incentives early in the process of a lighting design or retrofit project. Talk to your local power utility for details on rebate programs.

7. Choose the right lighting for your facility

This might involve having a lighting designer develop an optimal solution for your facility. Task lighting can provide savings by delivering lighting for specific work tasks, reducing the need for overhead lighting. Options for task lighting include side or table lamps, track lighting, wall sconces and fixtures that attach to workstations.  When replacing lamps, it’s important to use the correct ones. Four foot fluorescent tubes might look alike, but have different performance characteristics. Similarly, replacement ballasts, transformers and drivers should have the same or better performance specifications.

8. Keep up with routine maintenance

This means everything from cleaning and inspecting lighting systems at regular intervals, replacing lamps before they deteriorate and removing unnecessary lamps. A light fixture’s output can diminish by 10% a year just from dust accumulation, making it critical to clean fixtures regularly. Some lighting fixtures now include alert functionality which connect to centralized controls and send a message to a maintenance manager indicating when lamps or fixtures need attention. Lighting controls also need to be recalibrated at times since parts might fail or get out of alignment. Today energy reports can be analyzed to make adjustments to lighting systems to improve performance.

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Topics: Lighting Cost Savings