Energy Manager

Lighting efficiency series: Lighting the way to a better bottom line

Many people do not realize the significant savings that can be achieved with simple, proven energy use changes. Lighting is something that every business has but is usually taken for granted as long as it works. Lighting can account for 20 per cent of total electricity use in manufacturing, 40 per cent in an office and 70 per cent in a warehouse. New lighting technologies developed over the past few years can reduce consumption by more than 50 per cent while also improving light quality and reducing maintenance costs.

April 17, 2009  By Greg Jones

There are many options you might consider:

  • If your office has T12 fluorescent lighting you may consider a change to T8 fluorescent technology. The existing light fixture can be retrofit from 4 lamps to 2 lamps and save over 60 per cent of the energy use. The new lighting will provide a much more comfortable work environment with none of the flickering lamps you may have noticed. 
  • In your plant or warehouse you may have metal halide fixtures. These can be replaced with T5 or T8 fluorescent fixtures and achieve savings of more than 50 per cent. The light quality will improve and you can eliminate that annoying constant hum or the slow startup of the metal halide fixtures after a power outage.
  • Exit signs and some pot lights may be changed to LED products to save energy and provide long maintenance free operation. These applications typically used incandescent lamps in the past with lamps lasting only 1000 hours. Maintenance costs associated with changing lamps are a significant cost and a major nuisance. The LED models will provide many years of maintenance free service.
  • For industrial areas with difficult access or for exterior wall packs induction lighting may be the preferred option. These lamps can provide up to 100,000 hours of operation before replacement is required.  These fixtures can greatly minimize maintenance costs as well as reduce energy costs.

All these projects can be implemented with a simple payback of 1-3 years and your local utility or government may provide financial support for the project.  

Many businesses are taking the next step to better control their lighting. This can be as simple as installing a motion sensor to turn lights off when no one is around or using a photocell to turn lights off near a window. More sophisticated options allow the control of individual light fixtures in an office. Using your desk top computer the light level can be infinitely adjusted to minimize energy use and maximize productivity. While the more complex systems can be costly the basic systems can be very cost effective.

The cost savings realized from these projects will be attributed directly to your bottom line and they can make up for a lot of the reduced revenues being experienced by companies today. The best part is that when the economy does improve you will have a more cost effective company and a better work environment for your staff…plus you will still be doing your part to help the environment. 


Greg Jones ( is President of Nexstar Lighting.

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