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Energy walk-through Part 5: More lighting tips

For four months, we've been walking through your business to see where you can find quick savings on energy. From water coolers to HVAC systems, there are all sorts of ways to gain efficiency and save money.

This is the final instalment of our "Energy Walk-Through." Last month we looked at overhead fluorescent lighting; this month, other ways to save on lighting.

Step 8: Learn about new technologies

Lighting technology is changing fast. Sometimes, improving your efficiency is as simple as changing light bulbs.

The best known option is to replace old incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Replacing a 100 W incandescent bulb with a 25 W CFL will save about $30 in electricity costs (Energy savings are based upon an average electricity rate of $0.057/kWh) over the life of the bulb, and one CFL will outlast many incandescents, reducing the time and money spent on maintenance.

See our handy fact sheet that shows what shape of CFL to buy for which fixture [PDF, 502 Kb].

Similarly, newer halogen lights – commonly used in retail settings for their pleasing light and sparkle – are far more efficient than older models. Traditional halogen bulbs give off significant amounts of heat (which is wasted energy), but some newer models recapture the heat energy so it's not lost.

This can save money in two ways: it takes less electricity to produce light, and some businesses find they can turn down the air conditioning once they've "cooled" their lights.

With continual improvements in lighting systems, the best way to tackle the learning curve is to ask a lighting contractor for advice. A Power Smart Alliance contractor will steer you to the best energy efficient options for your needs – and be able to tell you about BC Hydro incentives for lighting upgrades too.

Step 9: Focus on your high-traffic areas

It may be daunting to consider retrofitting all your lighting at once, even if you only have to buy new light bulbs. So remember that your best savings will come in areas where the lights are on the most – where people work, where customers spend time, etc.

For example, a retail shop will do best to replace the lighting on the shop floor first, and leave storage-area lights for a later job. Replacing the lights that are used the most gives the best payback time too. (See Walkthrough Part 1 for a solution for those low-traffic areas: motion sensors to keep lights switched off when no one is there.)

Step 10: Upgrade your exit signs

You may rarely think about your exit signs. But they're worth considering: they're never turned off, burning electricity around the clock.

Since a new LED sign can save up to $300 per sign over its lifetime compared to an incandescent model, the savings can add up. And you'll spend less time on ladders replacing worn out bulbs. (While you're at it, make sure your holiday lighting is LED too.)

Step 11: Get BC Hydro to help pay for your upgrade

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: the Product Incentive Program is a great way to get started on energy efficiency.

The program covers a variety of energy-efficiency technologies relevant for business, from refrigeration to HVAC, from controls and sensors to all sorts of lighting. You just need to apply in advance, make sure you use approved technology, and collect your rebate when your work is done.

Learn more at bchydro.com/incentives or call for more information: 604 522 4713 (Lower Mainland), or toll-free at 1 866 522 4713.

Earlier in the Energy Walkthrough series: