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Lighting and Shade Controls Help Combat Rising Winter Energy Costs

By Brian Dauskurdas

Short winter days mean more lights on, for longer amounts of time, in many institutional and commercial facilities. By considering these three lighting control tips, maintenance and engineering managers can reduce energy costs during these long winter months and keep employees more comfortable and productive.

Sensors save energy and make sure no one is left in the dark. Installing simple, wireless occupancy sensors in private and open office spaces helps ensure that lights are off when the room is empty. Especially when it’s dark outside, it’s easy for busy employees to leave for the day without remembering to turn off lights, and that could translate into higher electricity costs. Sensors take just minutes to install, and with typical lighting energy savings of 20-60 percent, those sensors will pay for themselves quickly.

Wireless occupancy sensors can also integrate with HVAC systems to make office temperatures more comfortable for employees during work hours, and automatically set back the thermostat after hours. An adjustment of just a few degrees can save 5-15 percent electricity after hours, while still keeping employees warm and focused on their work, not their chilly toes and fingers.

Integrated lighting and shade controls let the sun work to your advantage. Especially in the winter, natural daylight can be a great motivator, and daylight harvesting can help automatically reduce lighting electricity use by dimming lights on those beautiful sunny days. Introduce automated shade systems to control glare while preserving daylight and views and you may increase employee productivity by up to 25 percent.

What’s so important about daylight? Almost an afterthought less than a decade ago, daylighting is quickly becoming a cornerstone of high-performance building design. The Department of Energy acknowledges both the energy-saving and human-centric benefits of daylighting in its Lighting Development, Adoption and Compliance Guide, and federal requirements increasingly include daylight control in building codes and standards. Lighting and light control is connected to just about everything in a building — building energy systems, building codes, occupant health and productivity.

Rebates and incentives can lower the price of energy savings. Depending on state and local utility programs, there are numerous rebates and incentives that are designed to promote energy efficient lighting systems, providing incentives for the purchase and installation of energy-efficient products and controls. Lighting control manufacturers and your local utility can help identify the opportunities in your area. For example, Lutron Electronics makes it easy to link to eligible programs in your state or province.

Don’t let the winter blues affect your energy costs. Simple lighting control strategies can make a big difference during those shorter winter days.

Brian Dauskurdas is the Director of Global Energy Solutions for Lutron Electronics.

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posted on 12/21/2016