Fifteen years ago, you might not have thought twice about keeping the lights on 24/7.
Today, lighting doesn’t come as cheap.
For many facilities, lighting can account for a whopping 40% of the total energy costs. That adds up quickly to the tune of thousands of dollars a month...and the price of energy in Ontario continues to rise.
What can you do about it?
Well, the most effective way to knock down your lighting costs would be to replace your existing fluorescent or metal halide lights with brand-new, ultra-efficient LED replacement fixtures. But we know that’s not something you can do on a whim. It requires planning and approval from your directors – not to mention the capital outlay.
In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to squeeze some efficiency out of your existing exterior fixtures and luminaries. Some of these strategies are easier and more cost-effective than others…but all can help to save energy, reduce your lighting costs and make your existing lights more efficient today.
Give Your Exterior Lights a Good Clean
Outdoor wall packs and pole lights are exposed to traffic, dust, bird droppings, insects and all manner of nasty weather. Cobwebs build up in the fixtures, and the luminaires themselves pick up a layer of dirt over time.
In other words, exterior lights get dirty.
There are two problems with this. First, dirt can reduce the efficiency of LEDs and various gas lamps by impeding the heat transfer process. Second, dirt can cut down the light’s output – the dirtier the lamp, the less illumination it can provide.
Sure, the rain does help to wash some of it this dirt away, but you can’t count on Mother Nature to keep your exterior lights in peak condition. It pays to have them cleaned. Cleaning your exterior lamps, light bulbs and light fixtures regularly will enhance their light output and help to ensure they’re performing as efficiently as possible.
If you’re not sure how to go about cleaning your exterior lights safely (different manufacturers will recommend different cleaning methods and products), you can always call a professional!
Install Lighting Controls
You know to switch off the lights before you leave the room. It’s just common sense.
With a lighting control system, the same can be done in large facility with dozens or even hundreds of individual lights. Lighting controls have been proven to reduce lighting energy consumption by as much as 70% using strategies such as:
- Centralized on/off and dimming control system
- Motion sensors to switch off lights in empty rooms
- Photosensors to detect the current level of natural light in the room and dim the lights accordingly
- Timers to switch the lights on/off or reduce lighting levels at pre-set times, such as after closing time
But what if you can’t change your existing infrastructure? Adding a hardwired control system to your existing outdoor lights can be expensive. Depending on your facility, it might even be impossible.
In that case, it’s possible you could still benefit from a wireless lighting control system. Instead of hardwiring each of your lights to controllers and sensors, a wireless system can relay commands between these devices wirelessly.
Eliminate Unnecessary Spill Light
Have you ever had a neighbour install ultra-bright lights that floods the whole neighbourhood?
Even if you haven’t dealt with it personally, you’ve probably heard from someone who has. Light pollution is a common nuisance in urban areas and commercial/industrial facilities are a common culprit. That’s why most municipalities have bylaws on the issue, particularly when it comes to parking lot lighting.
What you might not realize is that creating light pollution also costs you. Think about it. Every dollar you spend producing light you don’t need – whether it’s illuminating empty space or spilling onto a neighbour’s property – is money wasted.
If your outdoor wall lights or parking lot lighting strays beyond areas that need to be lit, consider retrofitting the fixtures with shielding. Shielding is generally classified by the ‘cutoff’ level, which refers to the amount of light that will shine above a 90-degree angle from the fixture. A semi-cut-off fixture will allow no more than 5% of the rated light output to spill, while a full cut-off fixture will eliminate it entirely.
Find Your Ideal Retrofit Solution
You might not be ready to upgrade your current lighting infrastructure today – but you shouldn’t wait forever. It’s no secret that upgrading to energy-efficient sources like LEDs is the most powerful way to reduce your company’s lighting expenses. Today’s LED technology can provide you impeccable colour rendition, very high efficiency and incredible longevity – and require less maintenance than fluorescent or high-pressure sodium lamps.
Looking for a personalized solution? Reach out to our exterior lighting specialists today.