Energy Efficient Lighting

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What It Is

Energy-efficient lighting illuminates a room while using less energy than ordinary incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. Examples include natural lighting, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Additionally, you can invest in options that put light where you need and when you need it, such as motion sensors.


Why It Matters

Businesses often use regular light bulbs, however, traditional incandescent bulbs use a lot of energy to produce light, and fully 90% of this energy is wasted as heat.[1]

Leaving lights on when no one needs them compounds the problem. According to one study, “interior lighting alone may account for up to 60 percent of a business’s energy bill, yet many companies leave the lights on 24/7. [Switching] to energy-efficient fluorescent lights can cut energy usage by 35 percent.”[2]


Getting Started

    • Step One: Maximize natural light in your workspace
    • Step Two: Use energy efficient light bulbs

Step One

Simply opening the shades or curtains can reduce your energy bill. Allowing more natural light into the office means needing less electricity to brighten the space.


Step Two

Replacing regular bulbs with more energy-efficient ones will save energy and money. Try using these eco-friendly options:

    • Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs): A small, compact version of a fluorescent tube, a CFL illuminates a room using about 75% less energy than a regular incandescent bulb. They also last ten times longer.
    • Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs): LEDs light a room “using the same technology as the little indicator light on your cell phone.” They use 75-80% less energy than a regular bulb and last as much as 25 times longer.[3]

When shopping for CFLs and LEDs, make sure to look for the Energy Star label. Energy Star, a joint program of the EPA and US Department of Energy, certifies the energy efficiency of products. Products must “meet strict energy efficiency guidelines” to earn an energy star.[4]


Going Further

    • Step One: Invest in task lighting
    • Step Two: Use sensors
    • Step Three: Use timers

Step One

Task lighting better illuminates a workspace (such as a desk or cubicle) while using less energy by localizing the location of the light. Examples include desk lamps, reading lamps, and the under-cabinet lights found in many cubicles.[5] Check out Little Footprint Lighting for more information and tips on task lighting your office.


Step Two

Motion and occupancy sensors light the office only when people are using the space. The sensors switch the lights off when the space is empty, reducing the electricity bill.


Step Three

Businesses can use lighting timers to turn lights on or off at scheduled times. This ensures that the lights are on when needed and off after business hours.[6]


Case Studies

The King’s Daughters Inn

The King’s Daughters Inn, the Green Plus Sustainable Enterprise of the Year for 2010, uses sensors, CFLs, and LEDs, saving its owners hundreds of dollars each month. Click here for more information on The King’s Daughters Inn.


TS Designs

TS Designs, a Certified B Corporation that prints t-shirts, uses task lighting to save money. The staff used chains to lower the lights from the ceiling, illuminating just the workspace instead of the entire area. This has reduced the company’s spending on electricity each month.


Resources for More Information

  • Green Lighting by Brian Howard, William Brinsky, and Seth Leitman
  • EarthEasy offers information and sells a variety of sustainable products
  • Energy Savers Lighting section gives information and tips on how to save both energy and money
  • Energy Star helps you find star-certified products
  • TCP’s Energy Saving Calculator allows you to calculate how much you can save with energy-efficient lighting



Energy-efficient lighting can illuminate your workspace using significantly less energy than traditional bulbs. Reducing your business’s energy usage means adding money to the bottom line.


[1] “Lighting Choices to Save You Money,” Energy Savers, 30 July 2012,, accessed 23 July 2013.

[2] Walter Dray, “Energy Reduction Tips That Won’t Break the Bank” Bloomberg Businessweek, 11 May 2010,, accessed 23 July 2013.

[3] “Lighting Choices to Save You Money,” Energy Savers, 30 July 2012,, accessed 23 July 2013.

[4] “About ENERGY STAR,” ENERGY STAR,, accessed 23 July 2013.

[5] “Task Lighting Facts,” Little Footprint Lighting, accessed 23 July 2013.

[6] “Lighting,” Energy Savers, accessed 23 July 2013.

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