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How to Save Energy: Lighting

Effective tips and recommendations to improve the energy efficiency of lighting in your building.

Before reading the tips below, I recommend starting with our Preparation guide to get the right groundwork in place for implementing successful energy saving initiatives.


Lighting can account for up to 40% of a building’s electricity consumption, sometimes more if you’re an office-based business. Making sure you use artificial lighting as efficiently as possible is therefore one of the lowest hanging fruits in your energy saving arsenal.

Here are several tips you can act on quickly, most at very little or no cost:


1. Give people responsibility or authority to switch off lights when they’re not needed, including a ‘last to leave’ switch-off policy at the end of the day (create reminders and promotional materials to raise awareness if needed). If you have banks of switches and it’s not immediately clear which ones relate to which lights, label them to make the process simpler.


Myth buster: Turning lights off and back on again does not use more energy than leaving them on, even if it’s just for a short period of time.


2. Maximise natural light by keeping windows and skylights clean and unobstructed to minimise the need for artificial lighting during the day.


Tip: Vertical window blinds let in more natural light than horizontal ones.


3. Consider whether lighting levels in specific areas are suitable. Are there non-working areas of the building where you don’t need lighting to be as bright and could therefore remove surplus bulbs, or areas where light could be more focused in specific places?


Tip: Use ‘task lights’ that improve lighting at specific workstations, allowing you to reduce general lighting levels in the wider space.


4. Add lighting controls if you do not already have them in place. Examples include timers (e.g. to automatically turn off lights outside of operating hours), daylight sensors, or occupancy sensors that automatically switch off lights in areas of low traffic, such as toilets, storerooms and corridors.


Fact: Occupancy sensors could save up to 50% on lighting costs in a typical office and payback within a few months (or even quicker if you have your own electrician on-site to do the work).


5. If you haven’t already done it, replace your older lights with LEDs. LED lighting can use up to 90% less electricity than older lamps, and today’s energy prices mean they have a very quick return on investment – well within a year in most scenarios. LEDs can also improve light quality, creating a safer and more comfortable working environment.


Tip: If your lighting comes on instantly, with no flicker and is immediately at full brightness, the chances are it’s already LED. If it blinks a lot when starting up, or takes a long time to achieve full brightness, then it’s probably not LED.

LED lighting at Bradley Manufacturing in Oldham – read the case study



It’s important to tackle your energy use now rather than burying your head in the sand and thinking energy prices will drop back to what they used to be – they won’t.

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