Configure your lighting for efficiency
Natural light is an important element in our environment. We use it to align our circadian rhythms to help us know when to sleep, and when to wake. Natural light helps us produce Vitamin D, a vital element to our immune system. So adding natural light to your workplace can be more valuable to your business than simply reducing your energy use, carbon emissions and saving money.
How to do it now!
Develop a plan of the lighting in your workplace and map it against how the space will be used (i.e. who is doing what where). From this you will be able to identify the opportunities for implementing some or all of the following lighting configuration strategies:
Install windows and skylights
The installation of windows and skylights provides a free source of light that, when coupled with light sensors and a smart office layout, saves power.
A skylight(s) can be used to displace artificial lighting, and with "light tubes" natural light can be brought into many spaces.
Configure your workplaces to use natural light
Arranging the workstations in your office or workplace to utilize the existing natural light will reduce the need to provide artificial light to these areas.
Engage your staff to turn lights off
Use signs on the light switches in meeting rooms and seldom used rooms, to remind staff to turn the lights out when they have finished using the space. Encourage a "no lights on" approach to those spaces with sufficient natural light.
Breaking down the workplace into zones with separate switches for the different zones allows workers to switch off those zones that may not be in use.
Remove/turn off lights in over-lit areas
Some areas of the workplace require less light than others. By removing one of the fluorescent tubes from every bank of two tubes in these areas, will halve the cost of lighting these low use areas.
Install sensors to ensure lights go out when not needed
Using sensors to detect natural light levels and movement sensors to automatically manage lighting systems to turn off lights when the room or building is empty or there is sufficient natural light. For example, light sensors to switch off those lights nearest windows will maximize the value you get from natural light. While movement sensor are great in those rooms, such as the toilet or kitchen, where visits are sporadic and rarely for any length of time.
It is estimated that the use of light sensors would help most SMEs to save 15% of their lighting bills.
How much will it save?
Many of the above items allow you to either remove lights from your current lighting mix or reduce the amount of time a light is switched on for during the year.
For example, by rezoning those lights (i.e. 3 banks of 2 x 22 Watt T5 fluorescent lights) near windows to automatically turn off when there is sufficient natural light (i.e. half the time) you would save $33 per annum and pay for it self in a couple of years. It will also reduce your carbon emissions by 121.45 kg CO2e p.a.
Calculate your savings
Electricity Savings (S) = (N x 22 x 1000)/1000 kWh p.a.
Financial Savings = S x $ 0.25
Carbon Savings = S x 0.92 Kg CO2e
S = electricity savings N = Number of lights being upgraded (i.e. 6)
22 = Improvement in Wattage of the upgrade (i.e. 22 Watt to 0 Watt)
2000 = hour lights run for p.a. i.e. Half of 250 business days x 8.5 hrs per day
$ 0.25 = electricity cost per kWh (check latest cost from your electricity bill for your electricity price)
0.92 = Average Scope 2 and 3 electricity emissions factor (Use your local emissions factors)
Use an Electrician
While some lighting efficiency upgrades can be done by anyone, use a registered electrician where required and tap into your electrician's knowledge of the latest energy efficiency technology and ideas.
Why is this action important?
Smart lighting that utilizes natural light, sensor switches and staff engagement, contributes to a culture of work place efficiency that will benefit more than your lighting use. Best practice efficiency is a hallmark of smart and successful companies. Saving electricity and money while reducing your carbon emissions is a fundamental sign of a well-run business.