The True Cost of Artificial Lighting: From Lost Productivity to Long-Term Operational Costs

The True Cost of Artificial Lighting

In this short guide, we will look at the true cost of artificial and natural lighting, comparing them based on short-term and long-term costs. You may be surprised when you discover which option is more affordable in the long and short term.

The Cost of Artificial Light: 35% of Your Monthly Energy Bill

Ask the average layman what they believe is the greatest energy-related expense for businesses and they’ll quickly say “heating and air conditioning.” While heating may seem costly, it actually costs the average business far less than artificial lighting.

Air conditioning accounts for about 16 percent of the average commercial electrical bill, according to the Energy Department. Artificial lighting, on the other hand, costs businesses an astounding 35 percent of their monthly energy bill – a significantly larger amount.

What’s most alarming about this large gap in expenses is that artificial lighting is an easy expense to eliminate. While air conditioning is tough to replace naturally, it’s a fairly simple process to replace costly artificial lighting systems with more efficient natural daylighting.

Long-Term Costs: Daylighting vs. Artificial Lighting

Daylighting systems have significant (although not prohibitive) up-front costs, but over the long term they are remarkably inexpensive. Most skylights are designed to avoid leaks and UV damage, resulting in a minimal maintenance schedule with few ongoing costs for businesses.

Artificial lighting systems, on the other hand, have two significant ongoing expenses for businesses to deal with: the cost of replacing damaged equipment, and the huge cost of operating an artificial lighting system during business hours. From fuses to new light bulbs, operating and maintaining artificial lighting isn’t cheap.

Productivity and Sales: Daylighting Advantages for Businesses

Beyond reducing ongoing energy and maintenance expenses, installing a daylighting system has profound benefits for many businesses. Scientific studies indicate that an artificially lit workplace is less efficient and healthy than a workplace lit naturally.

This means that lighting your workplace – be it an office or factory – using natural light won’t just reduce expenses. It could also increase production, motivate your staff more, and reduce health-related expenses due to your workforce avoiding a variety of stress-related illnesses.

Beyond motivating your workforce, embracing natural lighting can even motivate your customers. Big-box retail chain Wal-Mart found that customers spent more in stores lit using natural light than they did in similar stores lit using artificial lighting systems.

Daylighting information website believes that the large increase in sales is due to an improvement in mood caused by natural light. When shoppers view items in naturally lit retail stores, they feel happier and more motivated to purchase products on the spot.

It’s time to make the change…

Switching to natural light isn’t expensive. In fact, in just a few months many large businesses completely recoup their investment in daylighting systems thanks to significantly reduced energy bills and improved workplace productivity.

In addition to this, businesses located in certain areas may be able to receive tax benefits if they improve their energy efficiency. A good LEED rating – which can range from Certified to Platinum – is also a valuable asset for marketing your business.

“Image courtesy of Nikolaevich/”

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