As we all know, rising energy costs have brought about increasingly tough energy codes governing watts per square foot to encourage business owners and managers to review their lighting strategies and components so that they can meet the stringent new efficiency requirements of the federal government and many state governments - and also enjoy the long-term savings energy-efficient lighting can bring. The push for energy-efficient lighting is bound to increase - not just to save our countryís precious energy sources, but also as the specter of global warming becomes a greater threat and governments try to limit the amount of fossil fuels burned. One way to reduce the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting carbon emissions, of course, is to limit the amount of electricity consumed, including electricity used to power lighting.
One way to deal with these stricter energy codes governing allowable watts per square foot is to simply use less lighting per square foot. But for anyone who has been in a building that was constructed recently under these new energy codes, but still used traditional light sources, the effects of this are quite obvious. Buildings are dark. Uncomfortably dark, sometimes.
The key to reconciling with these strict energy codes is to focus not only on the power consumption per square foot of the lighting design, but also on the EFFICIENCY of each light source. The more lumens per watt a light source emits, the less fixtures you will need to fill a space with plentiful amounts of light, while still using less watts per square foot.
As we also know, light-emitting diodes - LEDs for short - are an extremely energy-efficient type of lighting. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LEDs with an Energy Star rating can save up to at least 75 percent in energy costs and consumption while also lasting 35 times as long as comparable incandescent fixtures. In fact, the DOE reports, by 2027, the widespread use of LEDs could save 348 TWh of electricity - the equivalent of 44 large, 1,000-megawatt power plants. This would provide enormous savings, not just in reduced costs for energy but also in a lower cost for building plants to produce electricity. The savings in energy bills alone would be around $30 billion, while the decrease in carbon emissions would also be huge.
LEDs cost more to buy initially than many other types of lighting, but they can save tremendous sums over their lifetimes, not only in lower energy costs but also in reduced maintenance, labor and outlays for replacement bulbs and fixtures. And like all other high-tech products, the cost of LEDs is likely to come down over time even as their performance continues to improve - just as the price of computers has continued to come down over the years even as their power has spiraled upward.
At an estimated $38 billion a year, lighting accounts for the biggest slice of electricity consumption in commercial buildings, according to the DOE. Thus, commercial buildings are a natural place to harness the efficient power of LEDs to save energy, the environment, and money. LEDs are perfect for a variety of commercial and industrial uses, including street lights, lighting for parking garages, walkways and the outdoors, refrigerated case lighting, modular lighting and task lighting. In addition, recessed down lights are an attractive, bright and efficient way to light many offices and other business and commercial spaces.
LEDs can make excellent business sense, then, and not only for meeting increasingly stringent energy codes at the federal and state levels and cutting energy costs. The fact is that LEDs provide a lot of bang for the buck, and not just in decreased energy usage. These lights give more lumens per watt. That means that businesses donít have to go dark just to meet stringent energy codes. These beautiful, efficient lights can also provide businesses a more brightly lit space, increasing productivity among workers and at the same time making customers, clients and patients feel better as well and eager to return as repeat customers.