With rising energy costs impacting all businesses, investing in energy efficiency is now more pertinent than ever. Here, independent Aussie energy management company Energy Action offers tips on how you can cut your energy bill through better lighting management.
Energy is a significant controllable cost for a business, particularly when a business implements energy efficiency. The more energy saved, the more profitable. Energy efficient lighting is an obvious starting point for businesses looking to reduce energy consumption and demand across their business. Return on investments can be attractive, energy savings can be significant and lighting is a reliable and easily quantifiable investment.
Too often, lighting is treated as an afterthought in office planning, but since the 90s there has been a slow but steady trend towards increased lighting energy efficiency. This has predominantly been driven by environmental awareness and the opportunity to improve lighting efficiencies.
“Energy efficient lighting is increasingly being sold as a commodity product, [and] the lighting experience is a sensitive issue for many buyers,” Ed Hanna, director of sustainability at Energy Action, says. “Workplaces use vast amounts of electricity. By installing more efficient lighting in offices, businesses don’t only do their bit for the environment; it also helps them to cut costs, enabling them to increase their profits.”
Here are some tips for businesses owners looking to retrofit energy efficient lighting into their premises. Actioning these points will ensure a lighting strategy that will successfully reduce your energy use, lower your energy bills and reduce the carbon intensity of your business.
1. Think about the business needs. Australian Standards allow variance in the lighting levels used depending on the task being performed, allowing the consumer to reduce the amount of energy that it uses. For example, a corridor requires lower lighting than a work station, office or cubicle. The main office area needs to be well lit at least eight hours a day. However, meeting and board rooms should only have lights on when in use. Make sure to have light intensity that suits each individual work area’s needs. Optimising energy efficiency means delivering the right amount of light around the workspace. Businesses can do this through the right combination of fittings, lamps and controls.
2. Think about employees. Effective office lighting produces a comfortable, productive environment. Office lighting design requires more than just simple calculations of lighting levels. Businesses must also consider how the lighting will affect employees. Lighting, as a workplace feature, can have a significant impact on comfort and productivity.
3. Make lighting part of interior design discussions. Once the overall architectural design and interior layout have been established, opportunities to provide a well-integrated, quality lighting solution can be limited. Early decisions such as ceiling height, window size, and placement of ofﬁces are all critical to the effect lighting will have on a space. Surface ﬁnish choices also have a significant impact on lighting design.
4. Invest in lighting controls. Optimising existing lighting control systems or investing in in-fixture occupancy sensors and daylight sensors can lower your energy bills. This is particularly effective in low traffic areas such as stairwells, meeting rooms, utility rooms and car parks. Intuitive and in-fixture controlled lights are becoming increasingly cost-effective for these environments. Use flexible lighting solutions in areas that are not constantly in use. Most current energy efficient alternatives dim or turn off areas when not in use, without worrying about long warm up times.
5. Make informed decisions when choosing suppliers and or technology. Choose your suppliers and installers on recommendation referrals, experience and reputation, not just price. Always check your warranties, lead times and service expectations before orders are placed. If you can’t find a lighting salesman you trust, consider seeking guidance from an independent lighting market consultant. There is a lot of information now in the market that will help you make an informed decision about the best long term lighting solution for your business. Examine your options before you commit to a technology. Lighting and control technologies are evolving quickly. Assessing the market can be time consuming and complex, but do think about what is best for your company in the long term.
6. Have light intensity that suits each individual work area’s needs. Optimising energy efficiency means delivering the right amount of light to the workspace. You can do this through the right combination of fittings, lamps and controls. To make the office more energy efficient, maximise the use of natural daylight. For example, by installing large windows so during the day there isn’t as much need for many lights. Another way of cutting electrical costs in the office can be to ‘delamp’. This involves removing a fluorescent tube where lighting levels are higher than required by government standards. However, when doing this, ensure that lighting still remains relatively uniform throughout the office and lighting levels do not drop below the Australian Standards.
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