Notorious for gulping gobs of electricity, lighting showrooms must often fashion a kind of energy diet to slim down bills for illuminating both the salesfloor and products on display.
Wilson Lighting  installed motion sensors in two of its three showrooms. About 75 percent of the vignettes in the Bonita Springs and Naples, FL, facilities sport the devices. (They are not utilized at the Overland Park, KS, showroom.) Motion sensors not only curtail display lighting costs but also reduce air conditioning expenses, says Brian Wilson, Vice President of Naples-based Wilson Lighting. “Previously, we had lights on all the time, and that was generating not only a lot of light, but a lot of heat,” he says.
In south Florida, the situation is magnified since the average summer temperature hovers above 80 degrees, generating eye-popping air-conditioning bills. “So, with motion sensors eliminating some of this heat in our showrooms, that’s less taxing on our air conditioning system.”
Wilson says motion sensors offer another, unexpected benefit: “When people are walking around shopping, they might not notice a fixture. But when the sensor pops a light fixture on, it draws their attention, telling customers, ‘Look at me.’”
At Premier Lighting in Bakersfield, CA, perhaps 10 percent of all the fixtures on display are federally approved Energy StarÂ® units with electronic ballast pin fluorescents—the showroom had none of these units just three years ago. Premier owner Linda Pavletich says she also reaps savings by installing screw-in compact fluorescents in some Tiffany and torchiere lamps, both of which are lit all day. Many more low-wattage incandescents—7W, 15W and some 25W bulbs—are also prevalent at Premier.
“The cost of electricity for our display lights is always a concern,” Pavletich says. “We’re always looking to be more energy-efficient in the store, just like people are in their homes.”
Capitol Lighting ’s six showrooms in New Jersey and four in Florida are also literally profiting from compact fluorescents. Eric Lebersfeld, Vice President of the East Hanover, NJ-based Capitol, estimated that 10 percent of all the fixtures the company displays are fitted with the energy-conserving fluorescents, an increase from 2004.
“Not every fixture looks good with a compact fluorescent,” Lebersfeld observes. “You wouldn’t want to use them with clear glass [where you can see the bulb] and with certain colored glass.”
For years, Capitol has conserved energy by utilizing pull chains, only turning on fixtures when customers are viewing them. The company also harvests savings with a timer feature that automatically turns off all lights at a preordained time after store closing. Selected lights are automatically switched back on before the showrooms open.
Conventional wisdom dictates that lighting products sell best when illuminated. But creative cost-cutting solutions such as these should help showrooms shoulder the extra burden inherent to effective merchandising.