Change Is Lighting The Way

Your business’ lighting helps you be productive, accurate and maximizes your work potential during these dark days of the year.

If you haven’t remodeled and relamped recently, taking a closer look at your lighting situation sooner rather than later will pay off. The rapid changes in lighting technology that are improving energy efficiency and driving down costs are among the most straight-forward, cost-effective environmental improvements you can take advantage of. Wherever you might still have older bulbs around the facility, you should know that traditional bulb-style incandescent lamps use a lot of energy (90 percent of which is heat) to produce light. They are also no longer manufactured, although you can still buy existing stock.

But why would you want to do that? A traditional 60 watt incandescent has the same light level as a 43W energy-saving incandescent, a 15W compact fluorescent, and a 12W LED lamp.

For an example from one end of the spectrum to the other end, a traditional bulb used two hours a day at a cost of $0.11 per kilowatt hour will cost $4.80 a year and last 1,000 hours (20 weeks / about half a year). Similar lighting performance from a 12W LED lamp will cost you only $1 per year, and the lamp should last around 25,000 hours (500 weeks / about 9.5 years). If you stay with incandescent, your energy cost over 9.5 years is around $45.60, and you’ll have to buy and replace 19 bulbs. In that same timeframe, with the LED alternative, your energy cost is about $9.50 and you only have to buy one. True, LEDs are more expensive but you still come out ahead and won’t have to climb the step ladder every six months.

When you’re shopping for lightbulbs, compare lumens to be sure you’re getting the amount of light, or level of brightness, you want and need. More lumens means it’s a brighter light; fewer lumens means it’s a dimmer light. The new Lighting Facts Label on packaging (see photo) makes it easy to compare bulb brightness, color, life and estimated annual operating cost.

To replace the equivalent light with what you might already have, replace a 100W incandescent bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens; replace a 75W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you 1100 lumens; a 60W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you 800 lumens; and a 40W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you 450 lumens. There are LED tube lamps available for retrofitting your current fixtures as well, but experience suggests that in this case, a more costly complete fixture replacement designed for LED tubes is a better choice than just swapping out the lamps.

One final energy saving tip: If you have outdoor security lighting around your buildings or property, show up early every so often and make sure they are lit, or stay lit, and aren’t cycling on and off, wasting your energy and money.

Want to Learn More?

Assistance with relamping your business might include rebates from your electric utility. Be sure and contact them to see if they have business or commercial lighting rebate programs that would help. Check out this simple bulb vs. bulb calculator using your own energy costs and hours per day rate to see about potential savings from changes.

The Department of Energy website at has additional, more-detailed information.

This is a MnTAP original article that first appeared in the October/November 2018 issue of The Auto Body Journal. The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) is an outreach program at the University of Minnesota that helps Minnesota businesses develop and implement industry-tailored solutions that prevent pollution at the source, maximize efficient use of resources, and reduce energy use and costs to improve public health and the environment. To learn more, visit

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