According to the Energy Conservation Enhancement Project at Louisiana State University, “20% of all electricity produced in the U.S. is used for lighting, but 50% of that is wasted by inefficient lighting sources or careless consumers.” Lighting controls should be part of every home’s energy solution.
“Lighting controls provide benefits of mood and ambience setting as well as enhanced lifestyle, convenience and security,” says Seth R. Atkinson, head of corporate business development for LiteTouch, Inc. and chair of the Home Lighting Control Alliance’s Sustainability Committee. “But they also save energy. Lighting controls, in fact, are the only element of a home’s lighting—and the only home automation subsystem—that reduces instead of adds to the monthly electric bill.”
Here are five tips homeowners can use to save energy using lighting controls:
1. Dim the lights. Dimming is commonly associated with adjusting the output of light sources in a space to achieve a desired ambience, but every time a light bulb is dimmed, energy is saved and bulb life is extended. According to the Energy Conservation Enhancement Project at Louisiana State University (LSU):
Dimming the light this much
Saves this much energy And extends the life of the bulb by this much
|Dimming the light this much||Saves this much energy||And extends the life of the bulb by this much|
study conducted by Heschong Mahone Group found that dimming produces an average 20% reduction in input watts—an average 20% energy savings and 25% reduction in light output, with a bonus effect of extending the life of the light bulb by four times.
“Even for spaces where ambience and mood setting is not needed, dimming should be considered purely as a way to save energy,” says Atkinson. “By automatically limiting maximum light levels to 90%, a difference most people would barely notice, 10% energy savings can be achieved while doubling bulb life and thereby reducing the hassle cost of bulb replacement as well as landfill waste.”
2. Maximize use of daylight. Integrate automated window coverings such as blinds and shades into the lighting control system to maximize daylight while reducing solar heat gain.
“Some control systems even allow homeowners to harvest sunlight into energy savings,” Atkinson points out. “These systems monitor the amount of light in the space and maintain the level by dimming the lights. The higher the daylight contribution, the less electric light is needed and the bigger the energy savings can be realized.”
3. Turn off the lights when not needed. When lights are left on accidentally, the resulting energy waste adds up. Eliminate energy waste by using vacancy sensors and Master OFF controls. Vacancy sensors are devices that replace standard wall switches and monitor the space to see if people are absent or present. The monitoring method is unobtrusive; occupants are detected as heat sources moving against background radiation.
Lighting controls should be part of every home’s energy solution.
When the space is unoccupied, the lights turn off within 30 minutes thereby saving energy. According to Watt Stopper/Legrand, if 100 million households were to control just one 60W light bulb with one vacancy sensor, nearly 500 million kWh of energy savings would be realized, reducing nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year.
Click here to learn more about vacancy sensors.
“Another method is to make sure all the lights are off when leaving the house by using a Master OFF control,” say Atkinson.
4. Turn on the lights only when needed. Automatically activate outdoor lights precisely at sunset. “Some control systems include astronomical clock timers that can be set to turn lights on and off at sunrise and sunset each day even as the seasons change,” says Atkinson.
5. Control energy-efficient light sources. Lighting controls can enhance the energy savings delivered by efficient and dimming-compatible sources such as halogen bulbs. Currently, the Home Lighting Control Alliance does not recommend operating dimmable compact fluorescent lights on line-voltage dimmers due to poor performance. Instead, non-dimmable CFLs should be used wherever lighting and color quality is not important, such as utility spaces.
Similarly, homeowners should use LED bulbs on dimmers with caution. First, be sure to check to ensure the LED bulb is rated to produce comparable light output as the incandescent bulb it’s replacing; if the bulb boasts high energy savings but these savings come with an equal loss of light output, for example, then no efficiency is gained. Second, ensure the manufacturers of the LED bulb and control system rate their products as compatible.
“Homeowners can reduce their ongoing energy costs as well as their carbon footprint by taking advantage of the powerful and inherent energy savings benefits of lighting control technology,” concludes Atkinson.