4 important facts you need to know about electricity cost savings in a manufacturing company
… and hazards that you should definitely avoid when upgrading the lighting solutions of your premises.
The daily challenge for industrial companies is to find the best value for money in their operations. The challenge applies to buying raw materials, production costs and procurement of office equipment. The same principle applies to projects with which we want to achieve energy savings. It is worthwhile to look for the greatest possible savings, which can be achieved at the lowest possible cost.
In addition to energy consumption, different energy saving solutions also affect our working environment. When looking at projects in general, it is primarily important to formulate the goal you want to achieve.
In addition to the chosen goal, it is also worthwhile to assess its relationship with the company's strategic goals. For example, if a company has made a strategic decision to reduce operating costs by 30% over the next three years, development projects can be planned accordingly and, in particular, the issues that bring the greatest savings to the company can be addressed.
1. Important indicators for understanding the quality of the lighting solution
In order to assess the quality of lighting, one must first understand the context. Modern LED luminaires consist of three parts: the light source, the ballast (i.e. the electronics that control the whole system) and the cooling device.
In the European Union, luminaires are manufactured in accordance with the standards in force in the electronics industry, from which we can also deduce the characteristics by which we compare luminaires with each other. The three main quality indicators are electricity consumption, solution’s service life and eye comfort.
Electricity consumption is expressed directly in the electricity bill. The most efficient solutions consume as much as necessary and as little as possible. The efficiency of an individual luminaire can be measured in lumens per watt and the solution as a whole in watts per square meter. With smart management, the solution can be made even more efficient. You can read more about the energy efficiency of modern LED luminaires in our blog article.
The lifetime of the solution describes how long the compliance with lighting standards is ensured for given solution. In order for the solution to be just as good after ten years, more luminaires and more powerful luminaires must be used at the beginning than is directly needed, because the luminous intensity will inevitably decrease over time due to environmental influences. The cost of the solution also depends directly on the lifetime.
EXAMPLE OF REAL LIFE: The developer promised a service life of 10+ years for the lighting installation. This means that even after 10 years, the measurement of the luminance in the rooms should show the permitted 300 lx. As can be seen from the following pictures, in reality the illuminance is below the requirements already 3 years after installation. Measured in different parts of the room, the results are, for example, 269 or even 235 lx. Photo: Eesti Energia
Eye comfort is certainly the most important quality indicator for employees. By eye comfort, we mean the uniformity of the solution (how low is the difference between the darkest luminance in the room and the average luminance of the room), glare (the discomfort experienced when viewing very bright, dazzling luminaires) and the color rendering index. Looking directly into the sun is the maximum level of glare that can be achieved on earth. Glare can be limited by hiding the light source from your field of view.
EXAMPLE: Discomforting glare in the parking lot of the shopping center, where the luminaire has been used to highlight the pedestrian crossing. A solution with high glare will not increase the visibility of the pedestrian crossing and the safety of pedestrians, but rather make the viewer look away by squinting. Photo: Eesti Energia
The color rendering index shows how well different colors can be distinguished under artificial light. For example, old street luminaires with yellow light spectrum have a color rendering index of about 40. In art galleries, where it is important to notice each shade, this value has been increased to as close to hundred as possible.
2. Which indicators are most important?
What the lighting should be like in indoor workplaces is mainly defined by the lighting standard EVS-EN 12464-, according to which the important parameters are illuminance, glare, uniformity and color rendering index.
Undoubtedly the most common and well-known indicator is the illuminance. Illuminance is measured in lux and is often used as a basis for creating new solutions. However, monitoring only this one value ignores everything else, and can result in a poor user experience.
If the safety of the employees and a comfortable working environment are important to the employer, when updating the lighting, the glare and uniformity must always be taken into account first, and only then the illuminance should be assessed. This guarantees the best quality for the employee. For a good solution, all requirements must be met.
3. Renovating the lighting is an investment
Renovation of a lighting installation is undoubtedly one possible project to save energy costs. Looking at the productivity of the investment, lighting renovation is one of the fastest profitable investments that offers the best return. For example, the industries that operate in at least two shifts and where the lights are on for a long period, can achieve a 50% productivity (internal rate of return, IRR) in only five years.
It is also often an investment that is inevitable because technology is already outdated or depreciated and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find old light sources on the market to replace broken ones piece by piece. Here it is possible to use various complete solutions that have been made available to the customer.
For example, lighting as a service is a complete solution offered by Eesti Energia, where the initial investment is made by Eesti Energia and the company only bears the monthly service fee for an average contract period of 3 to 5 years. Despite of the introduction of new luminaires and a full maintenance service, the monthly cost is still the same as before – read more here.
Based on the work done, it can be said that in some cases it is possible to save even more than 70% on lighting costs. Read more about the payback period and savings with which four companies have reduced their lighting costs.
4. Renovation of lighting as an opportunity to improve the working environment
From the point of view of the working environment, artificial lighting in the workplace is often unavoidable and sometimes even the quality of the work performed depends on the lighting installation. If the products are of high quality, it will help to maintain customer trust and, in the long run, increase revenue and good reputation. At the same time, the well-being of employees is more broadly related to the working environment, which in turn reduces the turnover of staff and the associated costs in the event of good working conditions.
Lighting solution is undoubtedly one of the easiest and fastest ways to increase cost efficiency for many companies. The analysis of the existing lighting solution offered by Eesti Energia and the cost-effectiveness calculations for the replacement of the lighting solution are free of charge for companies. If you are interested, enter your contacts on our website and we will review together what savings you can achieve on electricity costs already today.