It's a simple fact that energy costs money. And although emergency lighting activates only during a power outage, exit signs remain illuminated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The resultant energy costs can be significant, especially in large facilities. Even a minor energy savings can therefore result in tangible monetary savings.
All emergency lights must produce light and all exit signs must be illuminated internally, although the means of illumination may vary. (See Types of Illumination for a more detailed description of the types of illumination and their various "pros and cons".) Some methods of illumination are more energy-efficient than others. In fact, the type of illumination that a particular sign or light uses is the most important factor in evaluating its energy use. (Details are listed below.)
Best Practices Tip: Don't forget about factoring in installation, maintenance, and operating (energy) costs when evaluating an exit sign or emergency light.
Don't Compromise Safety to Save Money
It is important to realize when evaluating the use and installation of exit signs, emergency lights, egress signs, and photoluminescent markings that this equipment is present for the preservation of human life.
Always contact your local code enforcement authority to consider any local requirements, for example some municipalities do not allow self luminous tritium exit signs, while others require all exit signs to be illuminated with red lettering, thereby excluding electroluminescent exit signs since they are blue/green.
Energy Saving Tips for Exit and Emergency Egress Signs
Self-luminous tritium exit signs use no AC, require no maintenance, and have minimal installation costs.
Photoluminescent emergency egress and exit signs use no AC (though they do require "charging" from an powered external light source - 54 LUX (5-ft candles) of fluorescent, metal halide or mercury vapor light to charge material for 60 minutes). They require no maintenance and have minimal installation costs.
Electroluminescent exit signs have a draw of less than 1/5 watt/hour. They require the usual amount of maintenance and installation for exit signs.
LED exit signs are the current standard for exit signs. They draw less than 5 watts/hour of energy. They require the usual amount of maintenance and installation for exit signs.
Older exit signs that use incandescent bulbs for illumination can be converted with LED Retrofit Kits into functional LED exit signs to save energy.
Energy Saving Tips for Emergency Lighting
Although emergency lights only turn on during a power failure, there is a constant energy draw for the backup battery to remain "charged". Higher capacity batteries (as used by less energy-efficient lamps) use more electricity.
Keeping in mind the emergency lighting requirements of your installation, consider replacing bulbs or the entire emergency light unit with energy efficient LED emergency lights.
Whenever possible, use remote head lamps instead of multiple stand-alone emergency lights.