There are many reasons why commercial businesses should make the switch to energy efficient lighting. Energy efficient lighting, which refers to lighting methods that use less energy than traditional lighting methods, is both cost efficient and better for the environment. Energy efficient lighting comes in many forms, and many of these forms have already been around for years. These range from small changes, like changing a type of light bulb or adding a timer, to large shifts, like shifting from coal-powered to solar-powered energy to power lights.
Why should businesses such as manufacturers, with their significant lighting needs, make the switch to energy efficient lighting? A 2012 study shows that lighting uses the highest percentage of electricity in commercial business, even higher than other categories such as refrigeration and ventilation. However, lighting does not need to use this much electricity. Choosing energy efficient lighting and implementing energy efficient lighting practices will cut down on the amount of electricity used throughout the year, ultimately saving the business money.
Switching Out Bulbs
LEDs, light-emitting diodes, and CFLs, compact florescent lamps, are both strongly recommended as energy efficient replacements for incandescent bulbs. These bulbs may cost more than incandescent bulbs upfront but have longer lives and use less energy overall, making them cost efficient in the long term. LED bulbs use 70-90% less energy than incandescent light bulbs. Replacing incandescent bulbs with LED or CFL bulbs is already standard practice across the country. These types of bulbs have been in use for years and are a fairly easy way for businesses and manufacturers to improve their energy efficiency. Warehouse lighting, such as high-bay lighting, already exists in the form of LEDs. Many of these LED warehouse light fixtures are also suitable for temperature-sensitive areas, such as food processing plants.
Switching Energy Portfolio from Fossil Fuels to Sustainable Sources
Beyond making small changes, companies can proactively take the next big step in energy efficiency by switching from fossil fuels to sustainable sources of energy. The solar industry alone has grown by an average 42% annually for the past decade. As green and sustainable energy industries grow, eventually these energy sources will be cheaper than fossil fuels and a wise investment for businesses to make now.
Currently through the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) commercial businesses can receive up to a 26% tax credit for using solar systems. There may be also be other incentives determined by states and municipalities that vary from area to area. These incentives may include cash rebates for solar panel installation and performance-based incentives that pay companies for each kilowatt-hour credit produced by their solar system. Some warehouses and manufacturers are adding solar panels directly on top of their buildings. These roofs make good candidates for solar installation because they are huge expanses of relatively unused space.
Renewable energy in general is becoming cheaper as it grows more popular and as solar and wind farm production increases. Costs for both solar power and wind power are downward trending, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Businesses should take advantage of tax benefits now by implementing renewables in their energy plans and reap the benefits of renewables in the future as costs continue to decrease.
Analyze Energy Usage in Holistic Approach
Companies that own large buildings that require lighting, such as warehouses or manufacturing plants, should also take a holistic approach when it comes to making their lighting more energy efficient. A holistic approach may include changing lightbulbs, turning off lights in rooms not in use, constructing buildings with large windows for natural light, and building solar panels on the roof. Companies like Sustainable Lighting and Energy Solutions consult with businesses about their lighting needs to determine what kind of energy efficient approaches they should be taking. Services provided by companies like Sustainable Lighting and Energy Solutions work with their clients to improve their lighting plans and ultimately save clients money.
Switching to LED bulbs offer businesses energy savings of 65-80 percent. A switch this seemingly small makes a significant difference in energy consumption and energy savings. With the help of a lighting efficiency consultation service, businesses can even further increase the amount of money saved on lighting energy. Using services that will optimize energy usage is an investment, but it’s an investment that will save the company money and invests in a greener, better future.
New businesses can also take advantage of their construction process by considering energy efficiency in their building design. This saves the company from having to remodel for energy efficiency in the future. Design features that businesses may consider include large windows for natural light and efficient floor layouts that take advantage of existing light and limit unnecessarily lit rooms. Efficient lighting design can go way beyond just changing lightbulbs. Hiring a consulting service will help businesses incorporate efficient lighting design throughout their buildings and practices.
Energy efficient lighting has proven itself time and time again as one of the most simple ways businesses can cut down on costs and lessen their negative impact on the environment. While this is a lot easier said than done when it comes to large buildings, improving light efficiency will ultimately save money and energy. Make the switch now and see the benefits on the next energy bill.