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Daylight Saving: tips to help cut business electricity use and save

Image of clock hands
As our clocks spring forward for Daylight Saving Time, our opportunities to cut electricity costs increase.

Start with timers and occupancy sensors to take advantage of natural light

It's not surprising that we use more electricity in the winter. When it's cold and dark, it's tempting to crank up the heat and leave lights on longer.

Unfortunately, lighting and space heating are two of the biggest energy costs for many small businesses. And that's especially true if your lighting system is 10 to 15 years old.

With Daylight Saving Time now in effect in British Columbia, it's a great time to revisit your lighting and heating needs. Take advantage of brighter and longer days by implementing these three simple Power Smart tips at work: they'll improve your business' energy efficiency and save money on your next BC Hydro bill.

Only use the light you need, when you need it

When paired with energy-efficient lighting, timers and occupancy sensors are very effective energy management tools for business owners. They're not only easy to install, but they're transferable, which is particularly important for businesses that lease their spaces.

Timers and occupancy sensors allow you to pre-program when your lights, including holiday lights, are in use. For instance, if most of your staff head home at 6 p.m., you can pre-program your overhead lights to turn off at 6:30 p.m., encouraging remaining staff to use task lighting. That way, you're not lighting an almost-empty office (aside from emergency lighting, of course).

Controls like timers and motion sensors are also great for restaurants, hotels and strata properties, where common areas need lighting. Full lighting in hallways and corridors, restrooms, or inside commercial fridges and freezers, may not be necessary. In settings like these, timers and occupancy sensors are a great way to keep energy costs down, while also meeting safety requirements.

Best of all, timers and occupancy sensors take thinking out of the equation — they do the work for you. Once a timer or occupancy sensor is programmed, you don't have to revisit the device again until — you guessed it — Daylight Saving Time ends.

Nothing beats daylight for quality of light

When Daylight Saving Time is in effect, it's the perfect opportunity to reduce your dependency on artificial light. After all, extra daylight is free — and sustainable. If you keep your lights off and use natural light where possible, you'll save money by the minute.

A single south-facing window can illuminate 20 to 100 times its area, so organizing your floor plan to take advantage of southern exposure and existing light may be a smart move. With that said, in the summer when the sun is high in the sky, sunlight can beam through windows into workspaces, creating glare and producing unwanted heat, so you'll need to manage sunlight. This can be done with shades or other lighting controls, such as dimmers, that allow artificial light to complement daylight.

Keep your thermostat (and your bill) down

As temperatures warm up, turn down your thermostat. If you have a programmable thermostat, adjust it to Daylight Saving Time. If you lease your space, talk to your landlord or property manager about seasonal heating and cooling adjustments. And, keep furnace filters clean, as dirty filters deliver a lot less air.

There you have it — three simple tips that can help you save money and energy. Best of all, they're easy to do, leaving you more time... to enjoy Daylight Saving Time.