How Can Artificial Lighting Increase Costs?

By Jeff Brain | March 23, 2017

While many artificial lighting solutions are touted as highly efficient, this claim does not always line up with the energy savings a system manages to provide. Many lighting systems include flaws which can inadvertently increase facility operating costs. Below are a few of the common issues with mass-market bulbs and lamps which can generate costs in a facility.

Negative Health Effects

Many artificial lights, particularly LEDs and compact fluorescents, produce light with one, or both, of the following issues: high blue spectrum light, or intermittent flicker. Because the body associates blue spectrum light with daylight, overexposure to it can curb our production of melatonin, the neurotransmitter which controls sleep. This contributes to the development of insomnia and seasonal affective disorder. The intermittent flickering these lights can create, while near imperceptible, can also be harmful to human health. Because our eyes attempt to adjust to these rapid changes in light, it can lead to repetitive eye strain, even eventually causing stress-induced migraines.

Reduced Productivity

While exposure to natural light has been shown to reduce stress and increase focus, artificial lighting can have the opposite effect. The dim, inconsistent light is shown to increase resting heart rate and contribute to lower levels of workplace productivity. One study found that under natural light, as opposed to artificial, productivity increases by 6-16%.

Increased HVAC Use

Even as they have become increasingly more energy efficient, many artificial lighting systems still produce light in an inefficient way. By burning either filaments or contained gas, these methods create waste heat along with the light they generate. This not only wastes electricity for lighting, it also raises indoor temperatures, requiring facilities to run their HVAC systems for longer hours to maintain a comfortable environment. This can, however, be avoided by using a highly efficient artificial system, or by lighting your facility with natural light.

Repair Costs

Another major issue is that most artificial lighting systems burn out or lose intensity over time. Because of this, more than two billion new light bulbs are purchased every year. Purchasing and replacing bulbs throughout the year can generate major extra costs, particularly because bulbs do not burn out uniformly. This requires them to be replaced multiple times each year, during which the workplace is disrupted, damaging productivity.

To learn more about how to ensure you are using efficient artificial lights, or eliminate their use, download our eBook A Comprehensive Guide to Sustainable Lighting.

(Photo: The Dewolfs, CC.)
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