Reducing Energy Costs with Professional Lighting Design


Ground floor apartment transformed by light.  Our main focus was reducing energy costs for lighting through upgrading to LED lighting from halogen, however the end result does so much more.  Controlled lighting that allows generous flexibility in the main living space by using a combination of cove lighting and wall washing, along with carefully selected low glare downlights has given this apartment a new lease on life.


Home Owners Andrew and Brigid were looking to update their LED Downlights to make the most of the energy savings this new technology offers, but after much research discovered that although there are many options in the market for LED downlights, none of those options provided them with the advice and design potential they wanted to re-invigorate their ground floor apartment.  We spent time walking through the apartment and discussing how each room is used.  From that design brief, we went on to develop a lighting design concept that brought both energy savings, and a dramatic improvement to the lighting in their home. 

Our first review of the home was back in 2013, but it wasn’t until 2015 that technology had developed enough to make the showstopper lighting elements affordable.  Following the renovation of their lighting, a comprehensive review of energy consumption has demonstrated a dramatic drop in daily cost, and an overall saving of $800 per year in energy bills for the lighting alone.

• Key Issues/Goals/Problems

Saving energy without losing the quality of light was a key issue for this home.  We also had to take into consideration the ground floor location, and the gloomy atmosphere of the apartment with the existing downlights.  In the end, we were able to significantly reduce energy costs and dramatically improve the lighting conditions through selecting the right lighting effects for each room, and controlling the switching and dimming for maximum flexibility.

The couple have an extensive art collection, beautiful furniture and a vast book collection.  With the pre-existing lighting, none of these elements were highlighted, and the corridors felt small and gloomy.  By replacing downlights with wall washing lights, we were able to push light onto the wall art, and also illuminate the book cases, highlighting their diverse book collection.  Selecting the right, low glare downlights to replace the functional lighting in circulation and kitchen areas improved the overall light quality with minimal impost during installation. 

By using darklighter downlights over the dining table, we reduced the visual impact of the lights in the ceiling, and created the flexibility to change the feel of the space into one of a luxury restaurant.

The couple each have vastly different requirements for their home office.  By adding an extra switch line, and selecting different lights for each side of the small room, 3 completely different lighting states are possible, allowing each person to change the room to suit their own needs.

The most dramatic change however is the cove lighting installed in the central living area ceiling.  This lighting effect not only brightens the room, it also creates a sense of daylight coming into the space.  The light source is barely noticeable, yet the effect, used during daylight hours as well as at night creates an expansive, bright sensation completely transforming the room.

The result is a ground floor apartment that feels like a free standing house.  Ceilings feel higher, and rooms feel larger.  Artworks are highlighted, bringing colours to life, and the book collection is now the feature it always deserved to be. 

Our Key Design Criteria:

·         Energy savings through LED lighting upgrade

·         Include fans to reduce air conditioning energy consumption

·         Highlighting art collection

·         Removing gloomy corners in circulation areas

·         Adding light to the kitchen

·         Changing the feel of the living room to increase the perception of space

·         Joint office with two different lighting states to meet different working needs

·         Enhance bathroom lighting for more brightness and visibility in mirrors

·         Use existing lighting locations for all new fittings

Client’s Energy Evaluation (see graph)


The blue line is the important one for lighting purposes. It represents general light and power at a peak rate of 22.65c/kwh and an off-peak rate of 13.86c/kwh, less a discount of 28 percent for on-time payment. This meter runs all light and power in the apartment except for the hot water service (red line) and the controlled-load concrete slab heating (green line). Prior to switching to LED lighting, the average cost per day of the electricity supply through this meter was around $5.60 (unless we were overseas for an extended period, as we were in October 2014). The daily cost is quite high for an apartment because we run a full-time office (including two computers, two printers and ancillary equipment), three refrigerator/freezers and two 24-hour water-feature pumps.

Our initiatives to reduce costs were as follows:

·         Installation of efficient Big Ass Haiku fans in every room in November 2015. These virtually eliminated our need for air-conditioning during the 2015/16 Summer.

·         Replacement of about forty halogen downlights throughout the apartment with a similar number of LED downlights, wall washers and feature lights in December 2015. The effect of this replacement was immediate, both in dramatically improved light quality and in significantly reduced electricity costs.

·         Installation of the LED cove lighting in March 2016. The cove lighting is used as an alternative to the living area down-lights, rather than as an addition, and is probably marginally more expensive to run, but it seems to have had little or no effect on electricity costs.


Collectively, these initiatives have reduced our daily costs through this meter to about $3.30/day, a reduction of about 40 percent, i.e. more than $800/year.

The green line on the graph represents the daily cost of running our controlled-load concrete slab heating. The controlled load means that it runs only at off-peak rates for a few hours mid-afternoon and from midnight to 7:00 a.m. It is intended to maintain an even ambient temperature, but I felt that the $8 to $10 per day we were paying in winter, just to heat the slab, was excessive, so I replaced the original atmospheric thermostats mounted on the walls with sensors embedded in the slab. This allowed me to control the temperature of the slab directly rather than relying on air temperature. I also installed a reverse-cycle heater/air-conditioner which allowed me to boost the air temperature at any time as required. (Interestingly, the added heating load from the reverse-cycle, which is run through the main meter, seems to have had no material effect on costs – clearly, it’s a much more efficient heater than the slab.) The effect of this change was dramatic. Heating costs during the coldest winter we have had for several years fell from more than $9/day to less than $4/day. I expect this seasonal cost reduction to translate to about $800/year.


In total, electricity costs for the winter quarter have been cut from about $17/day in 2015 to about $9/day in 2016. Further cost-reduction measures are also being introduced such as programming the dishwasher, washing machine and clothes dryer to run only at night at off-peak rates. Overall, I am expecting my annual electricity costs to fall by about $2,000/year.

Client Testimonial

Mint Lighting provided precisely what I was looking for, i.e. expert advice on the kind of lighting that would best suit the area, recommendations on the hardware required, acquisition of the hardware at a reasonable price and provision of ongoing technical support to the electrician who needed quite a bit of help to overcame some technical issues that arose during installation. Mint were responsive and efficient. In short, the service is comprehensive from concept to completion. Highly recommended!