How To Make Your Office Lighting More Energy-Efficient

White Cove Lighting in a Conference Room
This article is part of a series here on the blog about how to save the most energy with lighting in your home or business.

Lighting accounts for at least 28% of the energy used in the average office building. That translates to a pretty hefty chunk of the monthly budget. But, by making big and small energy-efficient updates, you can spend less and enjoy a more comfortable office environment.

Big Changes…

If you still use incandescent or outdated fluorescent overhead lights, it’s time for an upgrade.

LEDs use about 80% less energy to generate the same amount of light as incandescent light bulbs. They also last about 25 times longer. So, if you use incandescent light bulbs in your recessed cans, you should replace them with LED lamps or retrofits. LEDs excel at downlighting, because they’re naturally a directional light source. Today’s models have light output and color quality very similar to incandescent lights, so you might not notice the change until you look at your energy bill.

If you have older fluorescent lighting in your office (like T12s), you’re also not saving as much energy as you could. T12 technology is over 70 years old, and incidentally was taken out of production last year. If you exchange your T12s for T8s, you’ll use 45% less energy. Not to mention, the color temperature and light quality of fluorescent lights have improved dramatically over the past few decades, so new lights could be a huge morale boost for all the office workers.


Smaller Changes…

Office lighting isn’t just about what’s on the ceiling. To make sure you’re saving the most energy possible, you also need to take a critical look at the smaller light fixtures in the office.

1. Exit Signs

LED exit signs use less energy than incandescents or fluorescents. While a 40W incandescent sign costs $39 to operate each year and an 11W fluorescent sign costs $11 to run, a 2W LED only costs $2. Not to mention, the LED will last 10+ years compared to the incandescent’s 6 month and the fluorescent’s single-year rated life. The LED exit sign will pay for itself within a year.

Exit Sign Green

If you want to reduce your energy load even more, you can try a photoluminescent exit sign, which uses absolutely no power to light up. The sign’s special material absorbs ambient light and emits it when the lights go out.

2. Display Lighting

Those halogen and incandescent display lights you have to showcase products or posters aren’t doing you any favors when it comes to efficiency. LED display lights match these older fixtures’ light output and quality, but blow them out of the water in terms of energy-savings. A 6W LED generates just as much light as a 50W halogen, and it lasts about 25 times longer!

Plus, LEDs operate at cooler temperatures and don’t give off any UV light – keeping any sensitive displays safe from damage.

Puck light display

3. Accent Lighting

Your office probably has some kind of accent lighting, like step lights in the foyer or cove lighting in the conference room. You may want to consider updating these to more efficient LED lights too. If you were to change out that old cove lighting for some new LED light bars, they would provide you with a notable 75 lumens per watt.

under counter and under cabinet

You can find all kinds of innovative LED lights to replace and improve upon your current lighting scheme – from stairway lighting to under counter lights to shelf lights and everything in between.

4. Sign Lighting

For lit signs and marquees outside of the office, changing out the old filament lamps for new, innovative light sources can help you save energy, reduce maintenance, and minimize waste.

Sign bulb

A 2W LED or CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent) sign light bulb will emit the same amount of light as an 11W incandescent. They’ll also both last considerably longer than the filament lamp – the CCFL has a rated life of 25,000 hours, and the LED has a rated-life of nearly 50,000.

5. Task Lighting

Of course, an office is never complete without a proper desk lamp, or adequate task lighting over each work space. Since there are so many different varieties of desk lighting – traditional swing-arm lamps, linear task lighting, puck lights, even table lamps, the energy-efficient changes you can make really depend on your personal preference.

Desk-Lamp-Swytch (5)

If you have a fixture you already like, a favorite table lamp or reading light, the easiest upgrade could be to simply change out the light bulb for an energy-saving LED or CFL. When dealing with linear lights on the other hand, it may just be easier to change out the entire fixture.

6. Lighting Controls

Finally, to save even more energy and create an invigorating and convenient atmosphere at the office, upgrade your lighting controls.

For personal offices and conference rooms, use dimmers. These handy switches allow you to control the light levels in the room to keep yourself alert or relaxed. When you dim a light bulb by 25%, you’ll save 20% of the energy you’d normally use to power it, and extend your light bulb’s rated life.

White Toe Kick Lighting in an Office


For high traffic areas like kitchens, bathrooms, thoroughfares, closets, or large workrooms, you should put the lights on motion sensors. That way, the lights will come on when you need them, but they won’t stay on when no one’s around, squandering excess energy.

For more information, check out the office lighting page on our website.

Have you made any energy-efficient lighting upgrades to your office lately? Or are you still weighing the options?

Annie Josey

Annie was the E-Commerce Marketing Specialist at Pegasus Lighting from June 2012 to October 2013. She has a background in English literature, and loves using language to help illuminate the world. So covering lighting news and tips naturally fit her interests. In her personal time she enjoys painting, biking, and reading.

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