Getting your Business in the Right Light

Upgrading to efficient lighting is a great opportunity to save energy and money; but it’s often a challenge to know the option that will work the best in your work space. If you are considering switching to energy saving light bulbs, we have provided the guide below to help.  

Get to Know About Colour Temperature

Contrary to common belief Compact Florescent Light-bulbs (CFLs), more commonly known as energy saving light-bulbs, actually provide you with more of a choice in terms of the appearance of light they produce, than traditional light-bulbs. 

When looking for the right type of light for your business consider: do you want the traditional warmer yellow glow which the traditional light-bulbs produce or are you looking for something which better replicates natural daylight.

After making this decision use these two measurements to help you choose the bulb you want:

1) Degrees of Kelvin:  The warmer the light colour the lower the number.  A traditional glow of the incandescent light is measured at around 2,700 K where as the cooler sunlight effect is more likely to be around 6,000 K. Looking at these numbers on the packaging can help you better understand the colour light they will produce.

2) Colour Rendering Index (CRI):  This is expressed on a 1-100 scale. Simply put, the higher the number, the more accurately the light source will reproduce colour of natural sunlight.

Choosing the Right Temperature for Your Setting

Our bodies are wired to react to different light in different ways, and this is where experimenting with different energy saving lights can make all the difference.

"Bluer light increases alertness," says Nikolay Smirnov, a senior engineer with BC Hydro. "It's human nature to feel more alert with light in the higher, bluer range, while warmer light, which can make you feel more sleepy, is not a good choice for an office."

However, a warmer colour light may be more appropriate for a lobby or a setting where you want people to relax. People also have cultural reactions to light. In hot countries, bluer light is preferred as it is perceived as cooler. In cooler countries, people gravitate to the warmer end of the spectrum as people associate the feel with things like firelight.

For an office environment Smirnov recommends CFLs with a colour temperature of 3,500 – 4,100 K. He comments that although you can get lamps with higher temperatures, they can seem too intense in some settings.

If you are in a retail or customer facing business environment you may notice that you will need different types of colours for your different displays or decor.  It is therefore important to test the different options to find the right light for each area. 

Smirnov provides the example of grocery stores where green vegetables look better under cooler blue lights but that under that same light red meat appears spoiled and tomatoes unappealing. Home builders have also found that a display suite doesn't show as well if the colour temperature of the lamps is too ‘yellow’ and that a colour temperature of 3,000 – 3,500 K is needed to make the suites look ‘crisp’ and ‘new’. 

Finding Help in Reaching a Decision

Finding the right CFL for the different spaces in your business may take some trial and error.  Help can be found in the form of lighting contractors who will be able guide you through the efficient and energy saving options available. Although this will incur fees in the short term, the payoff in saved energy is worth it. Remember CFL’s can last up to 10 times as long as traditional incandescent light-bulbs. So once you find the shape and colour temperature you like, you likely won't have to replace them for a few years.

To find out more check out the BC Hydro trade alliance page which helps match businesses with the appropriate contractor to answer their specific needs.