Building Energy-Savings into Daylight Savings

25th Mar, 2022

Shedding a little light on how to reduce lighting energy consumption

With the current global fuel crisis, many are anxious about the anticipated 54% utilities cost increase heading our way in April.  Due to an unfortunate mix of factors such as limited renewable energy generation last summer, and a cold winter restricting the amount of gas stored, more and more of us are expected to face rising energy costs.

Of course, a large percentage of these pressures stem directly from gas. As The Energy Saving Trust suggest, simple changes of habit in the home can help equalise these price hikes. Read more about how to save energy in our Big Energy Saving series here.

Many of us will lose sleep over this and, added to the UK’s lost hour of sleep this weekend from DST, we’re set to be a nation in sleep poverty too. In addition to cost, business owners are confronted with several other factors such as energy reduction targets. Lighting specifically is a key factor for many, as it becomes a larger energy consumer (proportionally), the more efficient a building becomes.

With 19% of the worlds’ electricity consumed by lighting, the clocks accelerating forwards may be a blessing in disguise. Now could be an optimum time to make improvements to the operational elements of your buildings, incorporating this extra daylight and improving lighting.

Natural light

Aside from being a notable factor for improving wellbeing (read more about lighting and wellbeing here), utilising natural light can reduce operating costs and energy consumption. It’s seriously worth thinking about, particularly because over 40% of a building’s energy use can be down to just lighting. And, as the clocks go forward, we will see a little more light than we’re used to.

Introducing more natural light sources, such as rooflights, or replacing old glazing with modern alternatives could prove especially beneficial. Which provide greater light transmittance, lower thermal conductivity and improved frame factors.

Within existing spaces, natural light can be introduced by reducing obstructions externally; this could mean pruning trees, adjusting shuttering or re-considering the placement of outdoor sheds. Even giving your existing elements a spring clean will remove any obstructive dirt and improve transmittance.

Finally, is your building decorated with dark, solid colours? If the walls and floor are a heavy, corporate grey that has a low light reflectance value, any natural light hitting those surfaces is just going to be absorbed. Opt for airier, lighter touches for wall, floor and ceiling coverings.


Artificial light

With a limited source and several knock-on effects of natural light, every building will require artificial lighting. The trick is for it to support natural lighting; by using intelligent controls to actively monitor internal brightness, and automatically increase or decrease those levels.

Utilising daylight compensation can offer energy savings in the range of 20-60%, and most buildings can reap this whenever they have sufficient daylight. It can be provided as switching, or dimming, with the latter providing greater saving potential, despite its higher initial cost.

However, the use of ‘circadian’ lighting controls to further reduce the negative effects of artificial lighting should be considered. These systems will change both the brightness and colour temperature of lighting, simulating the natural daytime cycle, which can improve concentration, mood and morale.


Now we’ve ‘prepared’ your building, let’s prepare you for the clocks springing forwards:

  • Begin eating slightly earlier in the day over the next couple days until Sunday
  • Expose yourself to sun early Sunday morning to reset your body clock
  • Use an eye mask or window coverings to block out the earlier sunrises from waking you up

If you would like to know more about utilising lighting and its benefits financially, environmentally and biologically, get in touch with Tom Broome at SDS.