Buildings Guide


Key Message

Lighting is one of the major end uses for electricity, and accounts for almost 15% of global power con-sumption worldwide (Enlighten-initiative.org, 2016). In the USA alone in 2012, lighting in residential and commercial sector accounted for about 461 billion kWh (Eia.gov, 2016). According to the IEA (2006) by adopting a "Least Life-Cycle Cost" strategy energy policy, electricity consumption in the year 2030 can be reduced by 38.4% compared to a reference scenario limited to current energy policy (base year 2006). Global lighting electricity consumption has increased steadily and it will continue increasing in future, if the current energy policy is not changed. Without a change in energy policy, global electricity demand for grid-based lighting will further grow over the next years and decades. The enlighten-initiative of UNEP is expecting that over the next 20 years global electricity consumption for lighting will increase by 80%. By switching efficient lighting technologies it is estimated that globally 939 billion kWh of electricity can be saved annually which is approximately five per cent of global electricity con-sumption (Enlighten-initiative.org, 2016).


In this section, you will find an overview about why good lighting is important, some relevant aspects to consider about energy-efficient lighting, how lighting needs are spread between the residential, commercial, industrial sectors and outdoor lighting, and how lighting needs differ between world regions and countries. We will also highlight the economic advantages of efficient lighting as a target for energy policy.



Electric lighting is used in every sector of the economy. Due to different lighting tasks and requirements different technologies are used in the four sectors described below. Estimated global average share of electric light production by end-use sector and lamp type in the year 2005. The following figure shows the estimated light production within the different end-use sectors and the use of different lamp technologies in 2005 (IEA, 2006).

End-use sectors and the use of different lamp technologies in 2005 (IEA, 2006)
Plmh = petalumen-hours = 10^15 lumen-hours = 1 quadrillion lumen-hours


The market for lighting in building sector (called general lighting) represents the largest market of about 75 % for lighting among other sectors such as automotive and backlighting. In 2011, total market revenues for general lighting was about EUR 55 billion, which is expected to rise to around EUR 88 billion by 2020 (McKinsey&Company, 2012). Given the rate of market penetration of LEDs, and the volatility in their prices, the price of LEDs in the near future has a significant bearing on the total market value projections.


All lighting systems, no matter how complex, are made up of three or four basic components:

  • Lamp – the source of the light, for example, a bulb or a compact fluorescent lamp etc.
  • Luminaire – a light fitting that incorporates a lamp, ballast, mirror and louvre to direct the light
  • Ballast – a device used to limit the amount of current, which is necessary for all discharge lamps
  • Controls – manual or automatic switching equipment, 
that operates the lighting system


The saving potential through more efficient lamps is enormous. Compared to incandescent lamps, savings of about 90% can be reached using other efficient lamps. Halogen lamps can be replaced with savings of about 80%. Regarding the efficacy of lamps it has been realized that there are big differences between lamp technologies but also within individual categories.

Efficiency of different lamp technologies
Source: (licht.de, (n.d.))


The lighting industry has made remarkable improvements in relation to the efficiency of lamps, luminaires and control systems. These improvements result in important differences and variation in terms of lamp efficacy, luminaire efficacy, lifetime, durability, temperature sensitivity, investment and maintenance costs.


Dieter Seifried (Author)
Antoine Durand (Reviewer)


  • Eia.gov, (2016). How much electricity is used for lighting in the United States? - FAQ - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). [online] Available at: http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=99&t=3 [Accessed 11 Jan. 2016].
  • Eia.gov, (2016). U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). [online] Available at: http://www.eia.gov/ [Accessed 11 Jan. 2016].
  • Enlighten-initiative.org, (2016). Home. [online] Available at: http://www.enlighten-initiative.org/ [Accessed 11 Jan. 2016].
  • IEA, (2006). International Energy Agency: Light´s Labour´s Lost. Policies for Energy-efficient Lighting. Paris Cedex: OECD/IEA.
  • licht.de, (n.d.). licht.wissen 01 - Die Beleuchtung mit künstlichem Licht. licht.wissen.
  • Wuppertal Institute/EMEEES. (2009). Measuring and reporting energy savings for the Energy Services Directive - how it can be done. Evaluation and Monitoring for the EU Directive on Energy End-Use Efficiency and Energy Services. Wuppertal: Intellignet Energy Europe.

Was this page helpful?   Be the first to vote on this page!