choosing the right eco lighting for your building

It’s one of those rare win win situations – Save money on your electricity bill, reduce greenhouse gas emission and feel really good about yourself. There are many compelling reasons to change to energy efficient lighting, here’s your guide…..

With the government legislated demise of incandescent light bulbs, the move to more efficient ‘eco lighting’ is afoot. There is simply no doubt that the new bulb technology is more energy efficient and in most cases longer lasting.

The challenge is getting building owners to adopt the pay more now to save over the long term thinking required to invest in new bulb technology as sometime this requires a full light fitting replacement.

Commercial owners for whom outgoings are usually paid by tenants, do not have the financial motivation to change fittings. However some tenants will choose an eco-friendly building over one that isn’t. It is good corporate social responsibility and it will drive change over the medium term.

What kinds of bulbs are available?

While the incandescent light bulb has served us well for 135 years it is time for a change. Here’s some options:-

CFLs

CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights) were the first eco lighting on the scene.  CFLs use between one-fifth and one-third the energy of incandescents.  Many people did not use CFLs to start with, common complaints were – I don’t like the white light given off  by CFLs and others point out that turning CFLs on and off for short periods considerably affects their useful lives. They take a few minutes to get to fully lit up and are not dimmable.

CFL technology has massively improved with options color, ‘instant-on’ bulbs have resolved the slow start up., and seeing the light.

So where do you use CFLs? Indoor areas only where lights are turned on and left on for long periods – offices, hallways and covered car parks.

WARNING – If you break a CFL be aware of the small amount of mercury in them, just open a window nearby and let it air for 10 minutes before cleaning up.

Average cost: $2 to $20

Average wattage: 9W to 52W

Average life expectancy: 10,000 hours

LEDs

LEDs (Light-emitting diodes) are the most popular new lighting option. When an LED is switched on, electrons and electron holes come together. The result of this process is a release of energy in the form of photons, or light.

LEDs use a fraction of the wattage required to power an equivalent incandescent bulb. For example a 12 watt LED puts out 800 lumens (a unit of brightness for a light source) of light whereas a 60 watt incandescent puts out 880 limens. LEDs are obviously much more cost effective to run.

Average cost: $5 to $25

Average wattage: 4W to 22W

Average life expectancy: 20,000 hours

INCANDESCENTS

The classic light bulb in a thought bubble is an incandescent stall the way Edison designed them – a tungsten filament trapped within a glass enclosure. Electricity heats the filament to a point where it glows, and you have light.

While manufacture and supply of incandescents is waning, they are available and are not banned you just won’t find them in supermarkets anymore.

Average cost: $1 to $10

Average wattage: 40W to 150W

Average life expectancy: 1,000 hours

HALOGENS

Halogens are simply incandescent bulbs with a bit of halogen gas trapped inside with the filament. This gas helps “recycle” the burned-up tungsten gas back onto the filament, making for a slightly more efficient light.

Average cost: $2 to $15

Average wattage: 29W to 72W

Average life expectancy: 1,000 hours

Which type of light should I choose?

      • Look at the amount of usage the light is getting
            • Is it been turned on and off constantly?
            • Is it only on occasionally for short periods or for long periods at a time?
      • From this work out which light type(s) are the best to use.
      • Next assess whether the light fittings you have will readily take the new bulb types or if a new fitting is required and take these costs into account.
      • Get the fact sheet form the manufacturer of the lights and look at the energy usage (watts) and effective light (lumens) emitted.
      • Do a cost to buy and fit and energy/cost saving calculation to work out the payback period or…..
    • Just do it anyway for the feel good factor.