Much as it pains me to admit this, my mother was right…  You have to turn out the lights.  It sounds so obvious that it is almost ridiculous, but that is exactly what is not happening in most of the commercial and industrial facilities that I visit.

When I walk into large warehouses and manufacturing sites — facilities with hundreds of thousands of square feet of space and maybe 30 employees per shift – I typically see every single light ON.  If it’s a 3-shift operation, those lights are ON around the clock.  Every shift.

The reason? Most facilities don’t have any intelligence built into their lighting system and may only have switches at the circuit level, so all they can do is leave the lights ON. This practice, combined with the criminal inefficiency of the legacy lighting technologies, drives outrageous lighting costs of about $1 per square foot per year and doesn’t give the site staff any ability to respond to how the facility is actually being used. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

At Digital Lumens, we are big advocates of turning the lights OFF when they are not needed – and ON when they are.  Which is exactly what our Intelligent Lighting System does for our customers.  The system incorporates sensors and intelligence as core design elements, enabling the system to know when people are in the area, provide the right levels of illumination, and turn OFF when the area isn’t in use.  And, they use LEDs which run at a lower wattage and throw off much less heat than high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps — particularly important in climate-controlled or chilled environments.

The impact is significant, as shown by the today’s announcement.  Maines Paper & Food Service, Inc., which deployed the Digital Lumens system in 2010, was recognized by Plant Services with a “Best Practices” award due to their energy reduction – 87% direct lighting energy decrease.  All because they decided that it was okay to turn the lights OFF when not needed.

With the new system in place, the lights respond accurately to how the facility is used.  Lights can be effectively turned OFF or dimmed without compromising the use of the facility or causing safety risks.  And staff now know that the lights will be ON – instantly – when needed.  Was there some skepticism on the part of the Maines team members when the idea was first proposed?  Yes.  Was it addressed during a trial and subsequent installation?  Most definitely.

Whether or not you want to have the ‘you were right’ conversation with your mother is entirely up to you.  But where the lights are concerned, give some thought to what the implications are of following her advice.  The bottom line will most certainly benefit.