8 Money-Saving Commercial Lighting Products and Procedures

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Lighting accounts for approximately 35% of the electricity usage in the average commercial building in the U.S., much of which is attributable to waste.

Reducing that waste and improving the efficiency of a building’s lighting systems can positively impact a business’s utility bills. It can also improve worker productivity, create a safer environment for employees and customers, and reduce maintenance costs. Take these 8 steps to better save money on your commercial lighting and help you improve your business performance.

  1. Evaluate your current system
    Before moving forward with a commercial lighting product or system upgrade, retrofit or installation, work with a lighting technician to evaluate the current fixtures and systems in use within your building. This will provide information that allows for more efficient use of existing systems and serves as a blueprint when installing new systems or upgrading older ones.
  2. Use light-emitting diodes
    By 2027, widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 terawatt-hours of electricity (the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large electric power plants, 1,000 megawatts each), according to the U.S. Department of Energy. With greater market penetration in recent years, LED prices decreased significantly. Businesses should stay ahead of the curve and make the switch to LED lighting fixtures to reap such benefits as:
    • Less energy consumption for longer lighting lifespan.
    • Dimmers and motion controls, which can be added to some LED models for efficient lighting use.
    • Reduced cooling costs, as LEDs produce less heat than other lighting technologies.
    • Superior brightness, light output and color.
    • Availability in a variety of product types, color temperatures and styles.
  3. Select your best-fit LED fixtures
    There are many LED commercial lighting products available that can reduce waste and enhance indoor and outdoor environments. For PG&E customers, several of these fixtures come with rebates and incentives that make their installation more financially attractive. A few of these include:
    • LED high-bay lighting.
    • LED exterior area lighting.
    • LED ambient lighting (available through the Customized Retrofit Program).
    • LED accent, track, directional and downlights.
    • LED lighting for refrigerators and frozen food cases.
  4. Use qualified commercial lighting products
    When determining which new commercial lighting products to implement, be sure to talk to your lighting contractor about ENERGY STAR®-certified technologies or products that are qualified by the DesignLights Consortium. Both organizations help ensure that you receive the quality and performance you expect from your new lighting system. PG&E also offers a variety of energy-efficiency programs, rebates and incentives for qualifying ENERGY STAR or DLC products.
  5. Implement effective lighting control
    Most wasted light usage comes from fixtures that are left on when rooms aren't in use. Adaptive lighting technologies, such as sensors, control systems and dimmers included in California’s Title 24 energy efficiency standards, control lights based on room occupancy and lighting necessity to reduce waste and preserve energy. Plus, controls help you take full advantage of the dimmability of LED fixtures. Dimmers can also help modulate illumination, turning lights up or down as outside light increases and decreases. Possible control options include:
    • Occupancy and motion sensors. These sensors use specific technology to detect movement.
    • Daylight harvesting sensors. Such controls automatically adjust illumination levels based on outside light.
    • Timing controls. Preset your building's lighting so that it is dimmed or shut off entirely during times when employees and customers aren't present.
    • Key-tag system. This provides an extra level of control, since lights can only be turned on or off by someone who has the key tag needed to operate the system.
  6. Take advantage of daylight
    A key benefit of natural light is that it comes at no cost to you. Install skylights and remove obstacles that block windows to utilize light more effectively during the daytime.
  7. Know how your business uses energy
    Small businesses spend more than $60 billion per year on energy. Before they can begin to pass down lighting usage considerations to employees and coworkers, business owners and managers must themselves ensure they follow best practice guidelines, such as those set by a lighting or HVAC contractor. Businesses can also better manage their energy use to save money using PG&E’s Business Energy Checkup1 to assess whether they need to update equipment, shift energy use to off-peak hours or leverage renewable energy sources.
  8. Consider financing lighting products
    To maximize their cost savings, businesses can utilize available financing options for lighting system retrofits or upgrades in interior or exterior areas. PG&E, for example, offers technology incentives and customized incentives for business energy efficiency retrofit projects.2

Businesses can better reduce waste, control costs and improve their commercial lighting effectiveness by working with a lighting contractor or designer. These lighting experts can provide best practices and guidance on the application of various LED products and fixtures to best meet your business needs.

Utilize "The Complete Guide to Working with a Lighting or HVAC Contractor" eBook from PG&E to help you move forward with your commercial lighting product system installation, upgrade or retrofit. This eBook outlines the benefits of working with a lighting or HVAC contractor and specifies effective procedures for a thorough assessment of your facility.

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Pacific Gas and Electric Company