How to Lower Energy Costs with Daylighting Systems
By Torrin Greathouse | February 04, 2015
The cost of electricity is rising. Since 2003, the price of electricity in America has increased by 62%, from eight cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to more than 13 cents/kWh. In 2014 alone, it has increased by 3% and is projected to continue rising according to the Energy Information Administration. This increase may not seem like much, but the effects of this change are huge.
As of 2012, the average annual energy usage in America was 10,837 kW. This means that due to the 3% increase in energy costs, in the last year the average yearly energy bill of US families rose by over $100, and America is not the only country affected—costs are rising worldwide.
While there are many forms of energy use reduction on the market, including solar and geothermal water heating, new efficient insulation methods, and solar panel arrays, daylighting is significant because it reduces both lighting and HVAC energy use. Daylighting harnesses the natural light of the sun to illuminate your home or business without generating the excess heat of electric lighting. Other energy saving products, such as solar panel arrays, can be extremely costly, while only addressing one form of energy use. Daylighting devices represent a better investment because of their multi-faceted energy use reduction.
How Much Will Daylighting Change?
A study by the Energy Center of Wisconsin found that passive daylighting alone could reduce monthly electricity cost per-square-foot:
32% for electric lighting
25% for climate control
24% in peak-hour demand charges
And 3% in fan usage
For a total of 22% monthly
According to the Department of Energy, active daylighting can cut energy usage between 50-80%. Because most daylighting devices do not use electricity from the grid, they provide free light as long as the sun shines into them. Daylighting also decreases HVAC costs. Inefficient electric lights convert up to 95% of the electricity they use into heat. Meanwhile, daylighting generates no heat and many daylighting devices are designed to prevent heat loss as well as heat gain. This ensures that both heating and cooling bills are reduced.
There are also tax rebates and incentives offered across the U.S. for the installation of energy saving technology in buildings. Many cities even offer specific tax breaks for green buildings which have received a LEED, Green Globes, or National Green Building Certification.
What Else Can You Do?
Once you start daylighting, there are several things you can do to make the system more efficient. Painting walls white or other light colors will reflect the light and brighten the space. Using matte rather than gloss paint will reduce unwanted and distracting glare.
The placement of objects in a room can also have a large effect on the quality of light. If there are shelves or tall furniture near the daylighting device, this can block the light from spreading out in the space. Placing high furniture against the walls ensures that the whole room receives bright ambient light.
Taking these measures into consideration will help you to maximize the efficiency of your daylighting design. They will also insure that even when the sun is down and electric lighting on, spaces will require less electric lighting, further reducing energy consumption.
So What is The Best Option for Me?
While there are many daylighting systems out there, from stationary skylights to sun shelves, the most effective are active daylighting solutions like Ciralight SunTrackers. Unlike conventional daylighting devices, SunTrackers employ GPS technology to follow the sun, redirecting its light into your building for up to 10+ hours a day. This efficient daylighting innovation saves so much on lighting costs that they return the investment in as little as 2 ½ - 3 ½ years.
To learn more about how you can lower energy costs with Ciralight SunTrackers, contact our sales team today!
*Following Carbon Footprints to Your Bank, Robert Huffstutter. CC.
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