Lighting typically accounts for 25% to 50% of energy use in most buildings. During our summer internship at EPA Region 9, we recognized 2 easy ways to increase lighting efficiency: adopting occupancy sensors and LED bulbs. These methods will result in both energy and cost savings. They have been touted for public use by EPA, DOE, and DOI.
Occupancy sensors are devices, frequently mounted on the wall or ceiling, that respond to the presence and absence of people in the sensor's field of view. Several spaces in office buildings, including conference rooms, restrooms, copy/print rooms, and break rooms, are used infrequently. Because people forget to turn off the lights, occupancy sensors in these locations can result in reduced energy use and increased efficiency by reliably turning off lights when the rooms are not in use. The California Energy Commission estimates that average saving range from 35% to 45% depending on the application and location of the sensors.
Increasing the efficiency of lighting fixtures by replacing compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) with LED bulbs can reduce energy consumption. Furthermore, this reduces hazardous waste generated by federal agencies as LEDs do not contain heavy metals such as mercury, which CFLs contain, and reduces maintenance costs as the bulbs last longer and do not break easily. LED bulbs do have a higher up-front cost of purchase; however, bulk purchasing and energy use savings can ensure an overall cost reduction.
Fellow government employees, let’s light it up right!