Ongoing efforts to phase out energy-inefficient lighting options like halogen spotlights continue to draw attention to light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs and their potential benefits to business owners - but what kind of savings could your own business achieve as a result of a wholesale switch to LEDs?
It certainly shouldn't be underestimated just how much money your firm is likely to be spending on lighting each year, and therefore how important it is that you investigate the latest, most efficient and most durable lighting options.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, lighting accounts for 18% of the typical household energy bill. With businesses typically needing to illuminate what may be very extensive premises across multiple sites for long periods, you may be surprised by how easily your own firm's proportional expenditure on lighting can exceed even this figure.
A quick look at the science of traditional incandescent light bulbs and their LED counterparts makes it highly unsurprising that in September 2012, the EU issued a directive banning the commercial sale to homeowners of any incandescent bulb of more than 40 watts.
An incandescent bulb, after all, works by passing an electric current through an extremely thin filament, which needs to reach very high temperatures to emit light. Such bulbs' reputation for immense inefficiency is based on the fact that around 90% of the electricity that goes through the filament is wasted as heat.
Not only are LEDs 90% more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, but they also deliver greater efficiency than another commonly cited energy-saving light bulb, the compact fluorescent (CFL). A single LED bulb lasts as long as eight CFLs, using a quarter of the energy over its lifetime, with LEDs also differing from CFLs in their ability to warm up instantaneously.
Such is the efficiency that LEDs deliver, that a 6W LED bulb is sufficient to replace a 60W traditional bulb - and various cost comparisons have been performed to show just how much difference such a switch could make in practice to a firm's energy bills.
One such comparison, published by the energy saving advice community TheGreenAge, revealed that those buying a 5W LED spotlight could expect to pay just £23 for it over its lifetime, compared to £198 for a 50W halogen spotlight.
Despite the former bulb costing £5 to buy off-the-shelf compared to the latter's £1.50, the need to use a whopping 12 of the halogen bulbs to deliver 24,000 hours of light - as opposed to just the one LED bulb - pushes up the halogen's 'bulb expense' to £18.
A similar analysis was undertaken by the price comparison portal Comparethemarket.com, on the basis of the use of old-style 60W bulbs across 10 light fittings in a property, with the lights switched on for an average of 10 hours a day. This results in a total power consumption of 600W or 0.6kW.
Based on a typical unit price of 12.2p per kWh, it was calculated that these 10 lights would cost 7.3p per hour to run, equating to a 73p daily cost, £5.11 a week, £21.90 a month and £266.45 a year.
However, replacing such bulbs with 6W LEDs reduces these running costs to just a tenth of what they were - that's 7.3p per day, 51p a week, £2.19 a month and £26.65 a year, bringing savings of 65.7p per day, £4.60 a week, £19.70 a month and £239.80 a year.
But enough about the theoretical cost benefits of LED bulbs over their incandescent and CFL counterparts - what businesses are feeling those benefits in the real world? The short answer to that question is every kind of firm - from modest convenience stores to major corporations.
You may ask, for example, Justin Fenn, who took over his parents' Kwik Save store in Great Yarmouth three years ago and promptly closed it for a major refit including the installation of LED lighting and the introduction of other energy-saving measures.
"I've made everything far more efficient, which has ultimately saved me money... it's not just about saving money; everything has been done to make the shopping experience a positive one."
Similar sentiments have been expressed by other retailers. Sainsbury's opened its first all-LED store in Leek, Derbyshire four years ago. The supermarket giant's head of sustainability, Paul Crewe, observed that its LED bulbs
"did exactly what we expected, hit the payback requirement mark, hit the energy use mark, and made the ambience in the store better than a traditional fluorescent system."
Sainsbury's expects a 10-12% reduction in its electricity bill as a result of the retrofitting of its entire estate, in yet another indication of the significant economic advantages that LED bulbs can bring for a wide range of organisations.
Thanks for reading, hopefully your excited about the potential savings you household or business could be making. Next time we're going to look at the ecological benefits of installing LED lighting.