Businesses are collectively missing out on huge potential savings by failing to upgrade their lighting, energy experts reveal.
According to the latest building energy efficiency survey (BEES) carried out by the government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), lighting is one of the two biggest areas for potential savings, consuming about 20% of the overall electricity used in commercial and industrial UK buildings and accounting for £1.1bn of the potential £3.7bn in identified savings.
Average annual electricity usage for all parts of a business ranges from around 20,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) — costing just under £3,000 a year — for small businesses to 90,000 kWh — around £12,500 — for large businesses, according to Business Energy. This means that, in financial terms, when lighting is calculated separately it can account for between £600 and £2,500 per year respectively.
Although exact savings can vary due to regional differences in energy tariffs — for example, businesses in Wales face some of the highest rates while those in the Midlands and Scotland enjoy some of the lowest —is it is an easy saving for business owners and facilities managers to calculate.
Ken Carter, director of building energy control, explained: “Because lights [in offices] are generally on from 8am till 7pm, five days a week, it’s quite easy to work out what your run hours are, and if you change your technology you’ll have half of this energy load.
“Because [the usage] is usually fixed, you make the change and you can see your energy expenditure fall,” he adds.
This is one advantage of making energy savings through lighting over other sources — such as heating — which can be more difficult to quantify due to seasonal fluctuations, added Carter, who previously worked as UK head of energy for Tesco from 2005 to 2008 and now advises businesses across the UK on how to streamline their energy consumption and costs.
Fortunately upgrading to LED panels, considered to be one of the most energy-efficient lighting solutions for businesses, can be carried out easily and relatively inexpensively, with the energy and cost savings realised immediately.