There has been a big push over the last 20 years to improve the efficiency of home and commercial lighting. In the context of a building as a whole, how important is lighting at improving efficiency and making energy savings? Let’s take a look at some typical lighting technology and what sort of impact it has on your EPC rating.

Incandescent Lighting

The oldest and least efficient way to light a property is with a standard incandescent light bulb. This technology has been around for over 100 years, and the standard incandescent will give off much more energy in heat than light. They are incredibly inefficient and are being phased out to the point where you cannot buy them in the UK any more.

Halogen Spotlights

Halogen lighting can still be bought in the UK. They are primarily found in spotlight fittings, but you can also get halogen bulbs in other formats. Whilst they are slightly more efficient than an incandescent, they are still very inefficient. They are classed as a low efficiency light in the EPC software.

LED Lighting

LEDs are the most efficient way to light a property, whatever the situation. All new build properties and refurbished properties will usually have LEDs installed as standard these days, and it is easy to see why. They have extremely long lifespans in comparison to other types of bulb, they have a full range of colour temperatures and beam angles, plus they are much cheaper to run than the competition.

How is lighting included in domestic EPCs?

Domestic EPCs have a very simple way to input the lighting in the building. All the lights are counted, and the total number of energy efficient lights are input. There is no consideration of the different types of light and the relative efficiencies – it is a very simple process that obviously has its drawbacks.

So what difference does it make to the final rating? In the average domestic property, going from old lighting to new energy efficient lighting throughout the property will only improve the energy rating by 1 or 2 points. That is not to say that it isn’t worth doing! A single point can make the difference between a C and a D rating for example, and the savings per bulb mean that the payback time is actually very short. It makes sense to get it done, but if you are trying to boost your EPC rating, you will have to do something more.

How is lighting included in commercial EPCs?

There is a stark difference in how a commercial and domestic EPC considers lighting. As we have discussed, lighting in domestic properties is very simple to input and does not really make a big difference to the final EPC. Commercial spaces tend to use a lot more lighting, and will have much bigger gulfs between the most and least efficient lighting. You can probably imagine that a 1,000 square meter warehouse is going to take quite a bit of money to light 24/7 and improving the efficiency of the bulbs by 90% or more is going to be huge for the power consumption.

The commercial EPC software is much more comprehensive, and there are a range of different options for inputting the type of lighting. You can choose to do the following:

  • If a full lighting design has been carried out for the building, then it is possible to input the lux and wattage levels for each area of the building. This allows you to be incredibly accurate and if the design is up to current building regulations, you will get a very efficient and low rating for the lighting segment of the EPC.
  • If there is not a full lighting design, but it is possible to get a lumen per circuit watt figure for the system, then this can be entered in the software. It will also reflect the lighting very accurately and should give a fair reflection of the lighting present.
  • If the lighting is entered based on a simple visual inspection on the day, then the assessor can either enter the type of bulb in each area (eg. T8 fluorescent, Halogen, Incandescent etc), or a default of T8 fitting can be assumed if the type of bulb cannot be conclusively ascertained. This will give the property a reduced rating compared to having the lighting data, and in some cases this can make a huge difference in the final score.

Lighting Controls

Lighting controls are not considered at all in domestic properties, but they can have some impact in non-domestic EPCs. Properties with movement activation sensors and auto dimming relative to daylight will get a slight boost in their ratings. This is often crucial in getting a property up to the very highest EPC levels and is factored in mostly for new builds. Some buildings will have integrated illumination control systems which will improve the rating further.

It is fair to say that lighting can make a big difference in commercial properties. Whereas domestic properties only see a small change in their rating from improving lighting, commercial certificates can see a rating boost of several grades in the most extreme cases. Lighting is also by far the cheapest way to improve a commercial property’s rating, so make sure you check to see whether yours is up to scratch when you get your EPC.