How can we cut energy use on lighting?

Many offices have electric lighting on all day, whether it’s needed or not. Some careful thought about how much lighting is needed and when could lead to big cost and energy savings. 

Things you can do now

  • Make sure the last person to leave switches off at night. Encourage cleaners and security staff to switch off, or to remind anyone still working to do so.
  • Make the most of natural light – for example angle blinds to throw light onto the ceiling rather than closing them completely. This will keep the light while screening out heat and glare.
  • Turn the lights off when you leave an empty office or meeting room. It’s a myth that fluorescent lights wear out more quickly or use more electricity when turned on and off.
  • Put up posters and stickers to encourage people to switch off – your energy supplier should be happy to provide you with some.
  • Check windows, skylights and lighting systems are properly cleaned and maintained.

Bigger ideas

  • Look into changes to lighting systems, such as movement-triggered switches for quiet areas such as bathrooms, or simply increasing the number of switches, so that you don’t have to turn on large numbers of lights at once.
  • Encourage your employer to replace light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. These last up to eight times longer and use only a fifth of the energy.
  • Discuss whether your workplace could be better laid out to make use of natural light by, for example, moving desks, getting rid of high bookcases or partitions, or installing new blinds.
  • Changes to working patterns could cut down on the need for lighting. For example, could cleaners come in during the daytime, instead of the evening?

You’ll find more ideas on cutting energy use on lighting in the TUC’s Go Green at Work handbook (PDF, 1.7MB).

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.