Energy management: how to reduce your consumption of building lighting

Clementine Tanguy
DateSeptember 15, 2022

Inside lighting is one of the most energy-intensive parts of building operation. Visible and directly linked to the well-being of the users, this represents a large potential for energy savings. Indeed, lighting control is one of the easiest ways to make substantial energy savings for a relatively small investment and is one of the most common energy conservation measures.

Let’s begin by explaining what constitutes an energy conservation measure.

What (really) are Energy Conservation Measures?

Energy conservation refers to minimizing energy consumption by using more efficient equipment and appliances as well as sensible utilization. This can be done by upgrading, retrofitting, repairing, or replacing equipment to become more energy efficient. 

Read also: Retrofitting: 5 reasons why you shouldn’t overlook it 

These measures can significantly reduce operating costs while providing operational benefits by allowing businesses to replace old, outdated equipment. Energy conservation is an important component of long-term viability and development. In addition, it is a critical issue, as the use of non-renewable resources has a deep impact on the environment.

Ten energy-efficiency improvements for your lighting system

Let’s take a look at a few key actions you can take to optimize the use and the cost of the lighting systems in buildings:

1. Replace old equipment with new, higher-yield equipment: replacing the most energy-intensive lighting equipment with more efficient equipment is essential in order to optimize installations and energy costs. For instance, using energy-saving LED lighting systems will effectively reduce a building’s energy consumption. They have high performance and decrease energy consumption. Due to the several advantages of LED lighting, their usage has increased in street lighting, medical lighting, and residential lighting; they are also low maintenance, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly.

2. Install timers: several solutions can help avoid unnecessary energy consumption in daily life. Timers can reduce consumption by 2 to 45%. One very efficient method is to install spread-out or centralized timers (through an Energy Management System, for example) in places used intermittently: toilets, meeting rooms, parking lots, etc.

3. Install motion sensors: occupancy sensors detect the presence or absence of people and turn lights on and off accordingly. Installing presence and movement detectors in areas with high circulation: corridors, stairways, etc. is a very profitable solution. They are used most effectively in spaces that are often unoccupied, including warehouses, storerooms or restrooms. Occupancy sensors are less efficient in office spaces, where one or more people may be moving in and out throughout the course of the workday.

4. Install variation systems: install potentiometers, dimmers, and push-buttons, to turn off, light up and change the lighting. In the rooms where the daily occupancy is high, install a regulator connected to a photoelectric cell (which requires the replacement of the former ballasts). This automatic light intensity regulator modulates the luminous flow of the fluorescent tubes. The expected energy savings are 20% with the change from ferromagnetic ballasts to electronic ballasts. These savings can reach 40% with light intensity regulation.

While these actions are quite efficient, they require a lot of investment and effort to implement. Some simpler solutions also exist.

5. Schedule lighting system activity: in spacious office buildings, stores, or warehouses, you can install a centralized control system such as a BMS to define time slots during which the lighting will be turned on or off. It also modulates the lighting level according to the behavior of the people using the space. In supermarkets, it’s convenient to turn on 1/3 of the lighting when the employees arrive in the morning, and then turn on the remaining 2/3 when the store is open to customers.

6. Reduce the level of lighting: doing this in public buildings, while respecting the regulations and the comfort of the occupants, can generate quick energy savings. It can be done by first making good use of natural light (switch lights off and keep windows and roof lights clean and clear), and also by reducing the number of lights in over-lit areas.

7. Resize the lighting needs: to avoid waste, it can sometimes be necessary to resize the interior lighting stock. The objective here is to make sure that all the sources are adapted to the right need, no more, no less. Consequently, the power of certain equipment can be reduced as well as the number of lamps.

8. Optimize the interior architecture: unlike dark partitions that can reduce illumination by 20%, clear partitions give a feeling of openness and luminosity. Repainting or replacing the surface of the walls and ceilings, so that they are brighter, can therefore prove effective in increasing luminosity without increasing energy consumption.

9. Commit to regular maintenance: ensuring good maintenance of equipment leads to longer service life, whereas used lamps, with a low light flow, over-consume needlessly. Changing the lamps at the right moment and cleaning the lighting reflectors at least once per year avoids light and energy losses.

10. And finally, raise awareness and inform: regarding public lighting, awareness must be raised among municipal agents and the local and regional authority’s inhabitants. Different media and communication initiatives can be useful to inform people about the challenges of sustainable development and regulations and to transmit best practices: regular internal publications and informative sessions for municipal agents, exhibitions, debates, lectures, billposting, and so on for the users. Targeting children and young people in schools is an effective means of raising awareness.

At Deepki, we strongly advocate for a data-driven approach. Deepki’s collaborative SaaS platform collects consumption data from your assets and detects anomalies in buildings. This data – once processed – allows you to make informed decisions regarding the use of lighting in your building.

If you’d like to pursue more cost-saving measures, and you’re focusing on a major upgrade or new building, you might consider striving for a label or certification. We recently did a comparison of regulations, certifications, labels, and ESG scoring in Europe that you can consult here.