According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, lighting is a major factor in energy consumption, particularly in commercial buildings (see References 5). By changing the way you use light and improving your lighting efficiency, you can reduce your environmental impact at work or at home. Going green with lighting can also save you money on utility costs and the purchase of lighting supplies, helping your bottom line as well as your eco-friendly image.
Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Replace standard light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent versions for an energy savings of up to 75 percent. Look for Energy Star certified light bulbs, which last ten times longer than traditional bulbs. For even greater savings, use LED bulbs, which can save an additional 5 percent of energy and last 25 times longer. (See References 1)
Practice energy-efficient lighting habits. Ask the people who use your building to turn off lights when they leave a room; place signs on the door or next to the switch to encourage the practice. In larger rooms, install small lights that can be used to illuminate work spaces in lieu of turning on the overhead light.
Put lights on a timer system so that they will turn off at specific times. Choose settings based on the use of your space. In an office building, set the lights to turn off an hour after closing; at home, set them to turn off when everyone leaves for work or school in the morning and around bedtime each night. If you are going on vacation, opt for an occupancy sensor to save energy and mimic a more natural lighting pattern. (See References 3)
Use motion sensors in places where lights are necessary but are not used continuously. In places like the stairway to the basement, where it is easy to forget to turn the light off, a motion sensor will come on when you go up or down and switch off in between. Choose a simple sensor, which should be installed in a place that will catch the movement from a lighter place to a darker place. You can also install sensors outside or in work spaces for security and utility. (See References 4)
Make use of the natural daylight that comes into your building. South-facing windows allow the most light into your home without making it too hot or too cold (see References 2). Leave window shades open or install a skylight to flood a space with light during the day, allowing you to leave electric lights off for the bulk of the time the building is in use.
Elizabeth Smith has been a scientific and engineering writer since 2004. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, newspapers and corporate publications. A frequent traveler, she also has penned articles as a travel writer. Smith has a Bachelor of Arts in communications and writing from Michigan State University.