6 Energy Efficient Lighting Control Options for Your Business

6 Energy Efficient Lighting Control Options for Your Business

New energy standards require businesses nationwide to update the lighting in their workplace. Energy efficient lighting controls constitute one of the largest and most important changes businesses must observe. At the same time, these systems offer multiple opportunities to increase energy savings for every industry.

Energy efficient lighting control systems are not new, and a number of small and medium-sized businesses already use them. The key to optimizing energy efficiency lies in selecting the right lighting control for a business. What follows are lighting control options and the information every industry needs to get started.

1. Occupancy Sensors
Occupancy sensors are the most common energy efficient lighting control used in buildings and do much more than turn lights on and off. Some are now equipped to detect the space temperature along with occupancy and provide feedback to the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system and/or Energy Management System. This means the HVAC system can adjust for occupancy to provide the right comfort level. More advanced lighting control systems can also be used so that business employees can see when a conference room is in use or vacant. The most common occupancy sensor technologies are infrared sensors, ultrasonic sensors and dual-technology sensors.

Infrared sensors detect changes in a room within their line of sight. These sensors work well in open areas where the entire room is within the field of view. Ultrasonic sensors use high-frequency sound to detect motion. With their advanced technology, they can even work around corners. These sensors are optimal for cubicles and restrooms. Dual-technology sensors use both temperature and high-frequency sound to detect motion. This increases the accuracy and flexibility of these sensors, but also the price. These sensors are ideal for classrooms and conference rooms.

When selecting an occupancy sensor, business owners and managers should know that increased on and off switching due to occupancy sensors may shorten lamp life. However, while the lamp life may be shorter, the overall time between lamp replacements will be longer due to reduced usage.

2. Bi-Level Switching
Bi-level switching provides business owners and managers simple manual control. This is important because some people want lower overhead lighting levels for computer use, meetings or tasks that don't require a lot of light. The way bi-level switching works is simple. In a three-lamp fluorescent fixture, for example, the outer lamps are switched on separately from the middle lamp. Employees can switch on one, two or all three lamps based on their needs.

3. Task Tuning
Task tuning allows users to set light levels to suit a particular task or workspace. Because certain workspaces are used sporadically and certain tasks require less illumination, setting light levels based on task or work-area usage empowers business owners and managers to conserve energy and allows their employees to remain productive. Many businesses do not realize how applicable and effective task lighting can be until they work with a contractor to assess lighting needs.

4. Automatic Daylight Dimming
Automatic daylight dimming, or "daylight harvesting," controls a room's lighting level based on the amount of natural light in a space. This type of energy efficient lighting control uses a light sensor to measure the amount of illumination. Then light output is adjusted to maintain the desired level. Areas that benefit most from automatic daylight dimming include corridors, cubicles near windows and private offices. The initial commissioning and calibration of light sensors and controls is critical for effective daylight dimming, as poorly calibrated daylight sensors can result in little or no savings.

5. Time Scheduling
Time scheduling uses automatic switching at fixed hours of the day to turn lights on and off. Occupants can turn on lights after hours with wall switches or telephone dial-up codes as overrides. Time scheduling can also be used to reduce lighting levels at preset times to reduce energy costs.

6. Automated Demand Response
Automated Demand Response is a program by PG&E that lets customers earn incentives and save on energy costs by agreeing to reduce their consumption of electricity during demand response events. Demand response events are designed to respond to system constraints or high-energy price periods and typically occur on weekday afternoons during the months of May through October. An added benefit of Automated Demand Response is that PG&E will install and program energy management hardware at low or no cost for participating businesses.

Business owners and managers should consult a contractor to determine the best energy efficient lighting control options for a workspace. The sooner a business begins implementation, the sooner it will save money and energy. To learn more about different types of energy efficient lighting controls and how they can optimize energy savings for business owners and managers, download the free eBook, "PG&E's Guide to Lighting Controls and Occupancy Sensors."