Saving energy and money on lighting

Here are some easy, no-cost, no-permissions steps …

  • Put up reminders to turn off lights when they’re not needed – a simple nudge can be surprisingly effective. The Carbon Trust estimates that awareness and maintenance can cut energy use and costs of lighting by up to 10%. Download some reminder stickers here to put on light switches and doors.
  • Get ‘in the zone’ – If you are able to zone your lighting, label the zones clearly on your switchboard and make sure people only use the zones that are needed
  • Evaluate any major energy users – Carry out an audit of the existing lighting and hours of operation – what does your current lighting usage look like? If there are any major users, such as floodlights, ask yourself if you can stop using them or reduce their hours of use
  • Dim lights if possible – If you have a dimmer on your lighting system, use only the level of light required
    10% dimming will directly save 10% of energy without our eyes being aware of the change.

Going further

Consider Motion Sensors – For areas like toilets, which only need to be lit when someone enters, consider installing PIR motion sensors, which turn the light on when they detect movement and switch it off when movement is no longer detected. (Permission required).

Second Step: Switch to LEDs 

What are LEDs? And why make the switch?

  • LED stands for ‘light-emitting diode’
  • LEDs can provide up to 80% energy savings compared to traditional forms of lighting, such as halogen lamps
  • Due to their efficiency and life expectancy, LEDs generate years of savings after the relatively short payback period
  • Case Study: By switching to LEDs, Christ Church New Malden reduced their typical running level from 7,592W to 1,921W (20 hours/week), saving almost £2,000/year.

If you can make a like-for-like switch to LEDs, it’s low cost and doesn’t need permissions.

  • A like-for-like switch involves simply changing the bulb (aka, a lamp) – but not the fitting (aka the luminaire)
  • You can buy LED bulbs that will fit most fittings now – but there are a few exceptions
  • If your wiring is problematic, or if you have a dimmer system, you may not be able to make a like-for-like switch. Dimmers may need to be removed or replaced, as compatibility with LEDs can be a problem.
  • If you can switch, you’ll need to work out which bulb is needed:
    • Determine the lumen (brightness) output or watts that need to be replaced
    • Know the colour needed for the space: cool LEDs are more efficient, but they can be harder on the eyes. We’d recommend warm white or daylight for most uses.
    • What is the base type and size? (Look at the bulb being replaced or the fitting itself.)

Overall, if the wiring is in good shape and there are no problems with controls, then a like-for-like upgrade should be possible.

Outdoor Lighting – Consult with your Archdeacon or the DAC first

A conversion to outdoor LEDs was done at the Tower of London, with an overall savings of around 80%!

Things to consider:

  • Replacement must be power output equivalent
  • LEDs tend to have significantly different optics or beam control characteristics – simple lamp change rarely possible
  • Ecological restrictions apply to sites with bats

When a like-for-like switch isn’t possible, consider a new lighting scheme

This is a more complex option, and it will require some capital expenditure and permissions. But it can have a very rapid payback time.

  • Start with an audit of your current lighting and usage – then consider what you want from a lighting system. How do you want it to enhance the activities in the church?
  • Build in energy-saving options like zoning, sensors, and dimmers.
  • Consult the DAC for advice and permissions.

Other considerations

If you need to pay for equipment/scaffolding to access high up light, consider if there is any other high-up work that could be done at the same time.

Going Deeper: Information and Guidance from the National Church and Other Bodies 

Parish Buying members can access a discount code for the purchase of LED bulbs from LED Hut, which supplies a wide range of LED products throughout Europe.

Wholesale Lighting & Electrical ( has significant experience in the supply of lighting and electrical products, including the latest in replacement retrofit LED lamps and tubes.

For external LED lighting design, Parish Buying suggests Urbis Schréder, one of the UK’s largest suppliers of street lighting and exterior decorative lighting equipment. Contact to be connected.

Want to dive a bit deeper and learn how to reduce your church’s carbon footprint with LEDs, or have a complicated situation?

Check out the guide “Effective Management of Lighting Towards Net Zero Saving energy and money with LEDs,” addressing Practical Path actions A10 and A11: replace lightbulbs with LEDs, where simple replacement is possible, replace floodlights with new LED units.

This is one of the very useful series of Church of England Net Zero Carbon webinars.