Controlled lighting has become a necessity for creating a truly efficient lighting system. In fact, upgrading to lighting controls can save anywhere from 20 to 50% on energy costs in a commercial building – which can go a long way when trying to stick to your annual budget. Additionally, lowering lighting costs translates directly to lower HVAC costs: with less heat from the lights, there is less need for air conditioning. Fortunately, there is a wide range of lighting control strategies available to help Facility Managers improve their building’s efficiency.
Motion Sensors Manage Energy Consumption by Eliminating Waste
Motion sensors are mostly used outdoors; they automatically turn lights on when motion is detected and turn them off a short while later. Motion sensors are incredibly useful for outdoor security and utility lighting, especially for larger facilities.
Because utility lights and some security lights are needed only when it is dark and people are present, the best way to control them might be a combination of a motion sensor and photosensor controls (which can detect ambient lighting conditions).
Dimmers Cut Energy Costs by Optimizing Lighting Output
Dimmers are one of the easiest ways to cut lighting and energy costs; they can easily reduce electricity use from 15 to 20% when used in most areas throughout the facility. Dimmer controls provide variable indoor lighting – when you dim light bulbs, it reduces their wattage and output, which helps save energy. They’re inexpensive, and also significantly increase the service life of light bulbs.
Some dimmers can communicate with lighting controls wirelessly, making them even more cost-effective. Dimmers allow for more sophisticated daylighting control, demand response, and even individual user control.
Occupancy Sensors Automatically Turn Off Lighting in Unused Spaces
Occupancy sensors detect indoor activity within a certain area. They automatically turn the lights on when someone enters a room, and save energy by turning lights off a few minutes after the last occupant has left the room (the user is typically able to choose the length of time). Occupancy sensors must be located where they will detect occupants or occupant activity in all parts of the room.
There are actually two types of occupancy sensors: ultrasonic and infrared. Ultrasonic sensors detect sound, while infrared sensors detect heat and motion.
Timer Controls Manage Lighting Consumption for Active vs. Inactive Hours
Timers can be used to turn on and off outdoor and indoor lights at specific times. There are two types of timers: manual timers, which plug into an electrical outlet for controlling objects such as lamps or light strings; and in-wall programmable digital timers (which look like digital thermostats), and are used to automate indoor or outdoor lighting.
Programmable timers are not often used alone for outdoor lighting because the timer usually has to be reset with the changing of seasons. However, they can be used effectively in combinations with other controls; for example, the best combination for aesthetic lighting may be a photosensor that turns lights on in the evening and a timer that turns the lights off at a certain hour of the night (like 10 or 11pm).
Photosensors Cut Waste on Outdoor Energy Consumption During Daylight Hours
You can use photosensors to prevent outdoor lights from operating during daylight hours. This can be a huge energy saving measure for facilities with significant outdoor lighting (commercial buildings, hospitals, or other facilities with large parking lots).
Photosensors sense ambient light conditions, making them useful for all types of outdoor lighting. These light-sensitive controls are less effective inside the home, because lighting needs usually vary with occupant activity instead of ambient lighting levels.
These are five easy, efficient ways to effectively reduce energy costs to your facility. Energy use reduction plays a key role in overall cost reduction, and cutting back on just a few things here and there can make a big difference in your bill and when reconciling your budget at the end of the year. To learn more about ways that Facility Managers can reduce costs, visit our blog or watch our demo.