Energy prices have risen more than 47% in the past three years, and the government has warned they will continue to soar. Households and businesses can make their homes, stores and warehouses more energy efficient by introducing low-energy lighting technologies. Take time to consider your options and future-proof your building assets. As with any new technology, there are many misconceptions about low-energy lighting. Good lighting design and use of sustainable technologies can make a difference to budgets, and to the comfort and safety of the domestic or work environment.
Alistair Duncan, Principal of Eco Lighting Centre and a professional lighting designer, suggests customers can take a more enlightened approach, if they understand that brightness and wattage do not equal good light. Eco Lighting Centre specialises in low-energy technologies and urges customers to seek advice from professionals who understand the capabilities of new technologies. “You go to a doctor for your health, why submit your eyes and safety to hearsay? You and your building will be healthier, with the added benefits of reduced energy bills and more efficient buildings,” says Duncan.
To ensure low-energy lighting meets your key objectives (budget, environmental, aesthetic, safety, maintenance), it’s important to realise the key determinants of good lighting. Below is an overview of some of the definitions of lighting and what they mean.
|What do you do?||Why it's important for good lighting outcomes.|
|Why measure lamps in lumens and not watts?||We see with lumens not watts. A lumen is a more accurate assessment of a lamp's output. New technologies have raised the level from 8-11 lumens a watt (incandescent) to over 80 lumens a watt eg, LED. LEDs may have lower wattage, but more efficient lumens and hence lower energy demands.|
|Height of light to the working surface
eg, floor or desk
|Light dissipates with distance and can drop up to 25% of its strength if you double the height. Choosing the right light intensity, measured in lumens (not watts), is critical. Get it wrong and it is gloomy or dark.|
Is it warm, natural or cool and why does it matter?
|Measured in Kelvin, warm colour is 3000 K while cool is 6400 K. The temperature has an impact on how well you see fine detail. In complicated tasks, your eye 'sees' better, and focuses more easily with high Kelvin.|
Do colours look natural?
|If colour is important to you, how accurately the light reflects the colour is critical. We call it 'Ra', but it's best if it's specified correctly. All lamps differ.|
The light's on, but I still cannot see well
|Lights lose their lumens over time. Some technologies more than others. Compact fluorescent lamps deteriorate most rapidly. Often lumen maintenance is more important than the stated average lamp life.|
Average is a statistical definition
|Is not what it appears to mean. If a lamp states an average life of 2000 hours, it just means 50% will fail by 2000 hours! The best guide is to use lumen maintenance figures and lamp life to choose the right lamp technology.|
Ambient air temperature impacts on a lamp's long-term performance
|All lamps produce heat, but what is best suited to an outside location may not work well inside and vice versa.|
|Type of lamp fitting
Lamps need the right fittings for good light output
|Fittings need the correct lamp for good performance. If you change an incandescent lamp for a compact fluorescent lamp the light output can fall.|
|Reflecting walls, ceilings, floors and furniture
Change in the decor may change the light output
|Pale-coloured walls can reflect 80% light and dark walls will absorb up to 80%, hence they need more light.|
Do I look good?
|It's all to do with sunlight and melatonin. Well-designed lighting can improve your health and your mood, and enhance your surroundings.|
Causing headaches, or just mildly irritating?
|Poor lighting can cause unwanted glare that increases eyestrain and headaches. The correct lamp and fitting can easily fix this problem.|
What are they and are they being met?
|Australian Standards for lighting, eg, AS 3820, apply to all work places and feature in the Building Code. You need to get it right or you may be liable if accidents or health issues occur.|