Businesses are big energy consumers. The commercial sector in the average country consumes around 30 to 50 percent of the total electricity supply. 

For that reason, new energy-saving, low-carbon technologies are a big deal. Even small innovations can have an oversized difference in the total resource consumption of the sector. 

That’s why the emergence of cheap LED lighting is so exciting for people who care about sustainability. Finally, we have a lighting technology that converts the vast majority of electrical energy into photons. 

Historically, companies that needed to light vast spaces had a problem. The best available technology was incandescent. This method relied on heating a small, light-emitting filament to high temperatures to cause it to glow. It worked a little bit like a regular resistor, except the byproduct of the excess heat was visible, usable light.

The problem was that you had to heat the filament to extraordinarily high temperatures to get it to light up, wasting about 90 percent of the energy you put into it. And you had to shield it in a large bulb to prevent fires and damage to the surrounding environment. It was good technology, but it was by no means perfect. 

Halogen lighting was a refinement of this process, relying on light-emitting gases. But again, it still required the application of heat to get them to emit photons. It was about twice as efficient by still nowhere near where we need to be if we’re going to make a difference to overall energy consumption. 

Then along came LED lights, and the whole world changed. Suddenly, lights were able to convert 90 percent of energy into photons. 

Today a typical 150W UFO high bay light for warehouses, for instance, consumes perhaps 80 percent less energy than the equivalent incandescent spotlight. And it radiates far less heat, lessening the burden on cooling systems. 

We shouldn’t ignore the potential impact that this new lighting technology could have on the commercial sector’s energy consumption. According to Treehugger, companies should be able to slash their energy use for lighting by around 80 percent. Cutting their overall carbon footprint by approximately 1.5 percent doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is considerable. 

The efficiency of LED is essentially what makes them so friendly. The business community needs to enact LED conversion measures to help switch to this new form of lighting before it gets too late. 

It’s not all good news, though. While LED lights have made lighting ten times more efficient, they’ve also made it ten times cheaper. And that means that people are inclined to use more of it. Whereas switching off a light when you left a room was a habit in the past, people don’t bother so much anymore. Thus, the savings are less than many imagine when summed across the entire economy, especially the household sector. 

Businesses, however, can get around this by hooking up their lighting systems to sensors that detect whether there is any movement in the vicinity. If there isn’t, then they switch off.