“Three Ways Commercial Lighting Can Be Made More Energy Efficient Without Upgrading Your Entire System”


Improving energy efficiency is one of the best ways for businesses to save money on their utility bills. Upgrading an entire lighting system can be costly, so many commercial building owners and facility managers look for more affordable ways to increase efficiency without a full overhaul. This article explores three methods to enhance commercial lighting energy performance without replacing the whole system.

Upgrade to LED Bulbs and Fixtures


One of the simplest ways to boost energy efficiency is to switch from traditional incandescent and fluorescent lighting to LED technology. LED (light emitting diode) bulbs use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. They also last 2-3 times longer than CFLs.

Cost Savings

Replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs can reduce lighting electricity usage by 75% or more. The upfront cost is higher than traditional bulbs, but LEDs pay for themselves in energy savings in less than a year. Over the 50,000 hour lifetime of an LED bulb, businesses can save hundreds of dollars in energy and replacement costs.

Easy Retrofits

Many LED tubes, panels and bulbs are designed to directly replace fluorescent and incandescent fixtures with no rewiring needed. Simply swapping out bulbs and fixtures is a fast, easy upgrade. Payback periods are often less than a year.

Install Lighting Controls


Lighting controls like occupancy sensors, timers and daylight harvesting systems help reduce energy waste by turning lights off when not needed. They can reduce lighting electricity use by 50% or more.

Occupancy Sensors

Occupancy sensors automatically turn lights on when motion is detected in a space and off after a set time when no movement is sensed. They work well in spaces with variable occupancy like restrooms, conference rooms, hallways and storage areas.


Programmable timers allow facility managers to schedule lights to turn on and off at the optimal times. Timers work well for indoor and outdoor lighting that runs on regular schedules.

Daylight Harvesting

Daylight harvesting systems use sensors to monitor light levels and dim artificial lights when sufficient daylight is available. By adjusting light levels based on daylight availability, these systems can reduce lighting electricity use by up to 70%.

Clean and Maintain Fixtures


Dirt, dust and grime building up on lighting fixtures can reduce light output by up to 30%. Establishing a regular cleaning schedule helps maintain optimal light levels while requiring less energy use.

Cleaning Schedule

Lighting maintenance should be done at least 1-2 times per year. Fixtures should be dusted and wiped down thoroughly. Diffusers and lenses should be cleaned using products designed specifically for lighting fixture maintenance.

Check Light Levels

After cleaning fixtures, light levels should be checked using a light meter. Comparing new readings to initial installation light levels helps identify any reduction in output. If light levels are reduced, cleaning frequency may need to increase or fixtures may need replacement.

Replace defective components

Any burned out lamps or defective ballasts and LED drivers should be replaced immediately to maintain proper light levels. Facility managers should keep spare lamps, LEDs, ballasts and drivers on hand for rapid replacement as needed.


Upgrading commercial lighting does not have to require an expensive, labor-intensive overhaul of the entire system. Implementing LED retrofits, lighting controls and a regular maintenance program are three affordable and effective ways to cut lighting energy use by 50% or more. The cumulative savings on electricity bills typically provide a return on investment in 1-3 years.