Energy-efficient lighting options for small businesses

Look up. Is there a fluorescent light above your head? If you’re currently in any type of commercial or office space, the answer is probably yes.

Fluorescent lights can be found in nearly every commercial building around the globe. And, sure, they’re more affordable and energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs. But fluorescent bulbs give off a harsh blue light that’s not only unflattering but is known to cause headaches, eye strain, and stress. Plus, all fluorescent lights, even the more modern compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), emit some measure of UV radiation and contain some amount of mercury.

In contrast, LED bulbs emit no UV radiation and are chemical-free, which means they’re better for you and the environment. These bulbs might be more expensive upfront, but their longer life span, durability, and reduced energy usage means you save money in the long run. LED bulbs have a life span of up to 25,000 hours, compared to 1,000 hours for incandescent bulbs or 10,000 hours for modern CFLs, according to the Energy Department.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that widespread LED usage could save 348 terawatt-hours of electricity. That’s equivalent to the output of 44 large electric power plants, saving more than $30 billion by 2027.

In short, something as simple as changing a light bulb can be a big step toward reducing energy use and saving the environment.

Tips for lighting efficiency

6 easy ways to reduce light energy

Beyond making the switch to LED bulbs, there are a few more things you can do to further reduce energy consumption. These steps also will extend the life of your new lights.

1. Use digital timers

Digital timers ensure you won’t accidentally leave the lights on overnight or on days when you’re not using the space. If digital timers aren’t in the budget, start by posting signs around the office reminding employees to turn the lights off when they leave.

2. Use occupancy sensors

Occupancy sensors or motion sensors turn the lights on when a person enters the room and turns them off again when they leave. This ensures you’re not wasting precious energy lighting spaces that no one is using.

3. Use personal workspace controls

Allow employees to control the lights in their personal workspace. Not only does this reduce lighting energy, but it improves employee morale and productivity.

4. Use daylight sensors

Daylight sensors adjust local light levels based on the amount of natural light in a given area. On bright days there’s no need to have the lights on in addition to sun streaming through the windows. These sensors adjust light levels to compensate for waning natural light.

5. Use dimmer switches

Lowering the light level with a dimmer switch requires less energy than lighting a space with 100% brightness. Plus, most office buildings are woefully over-illuminated. Lower light levels result in higher productivity from employees. Best of all, dimmer switches are low-cost and easy to install.

6. Use natural light

If you have the luxury of big windows and lots of natural light, turn the lights off entirely. If possible, adding windows and skylights can be a great way to reduce energy use in the workplace while boosting employee happiness.

Commit to tackling climate change

We wish saving the planet was as simple as changing a light bulb. Switching to LED bulbs and taking additional steps to reduce light energy in the workplace is a good place to start. But small businesses have a critical role to play in combating the negative effects of climate change. You can help by investing in sustainable packaging, getting eco-certified, and making the commitment to save the planet, one business at a time.

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