Occupancy Sensors

One of the most overlooked energy-saving tools in the work place is the light switch. Lighting accounts for 30-50 percent of a building’s energy use, or about 17 percent of total annual U.S. electricity consumption.

Simply turning off unneeded lights can reduce direct lighting energy consumption up to 45 percent. Reducing lighting electricity usage reduces your energy cost and lessens the environmental impacts associated with electricity generation.

  • In this report, we discuss one approach to reducing office lighting energy consumption: Occupancy sensors. These are inexpensive and effective devices that can quickly and easily be installed on a wall or ceiling. A list of features to look for when you shop for these devices is included. We have gathered information from the major sensor manufacturers and identified a number of devices that satisfy these criteria. We also explore other options for turning off unused lights and other equipment.
  • Occupancy or motion sensors are devices that turn lights and other equipment on or off in response to the presence (or absence) of people in a defined area. Some sensors also control lighting based on the amount of daylight available in their coverage area. Most available sensors are designed to function independently or in parallel with other sensors for large areas. Originally developed for use with security systems, occupancy sensors have been refined and enhanced to control lighting and HVAC in commercial and residential spaces.

To read Green Seal’s environmental rating of 18 occupancy sensors, and information about available types of sensor products, download their Choose Green Report!

Adapted from a Green Seal Choose Green Report, by Green Seal. Copyright (c) by Green Seal. Reprinted by permission of Green Seal.
A Green Seal Choose Green Report, by Green Seal

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Elisa F.
Elisa F.1 years ago

Have to remind my daughter quite a bit... Thanks for sharing.

Kate Kenner
Kate Kenner3 years ago

I have 2 family house and I don't keep the downstairs hall light on as it's not really used. I feel like an energy saving curmudgeon but IT is ridiculous to keep hall lights on all the time. I would like something that doesn't involve having a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling. I feel all apartment /condo buildings should have sensors as it is a huge waste of energy since most of the time the halls are empty and they are on 24/7. I must look into this more. IT's s small hallway but I would feel better knowing I wasn't keeping people in the dark yet not wasting energy. No one has ever complained though so I guess it can
t be that bed.

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Borg Drone
Borg Drone5 years ago


Marcia E.
Marcia E.7 years ago

Oops I didn't realize it was already after Jan. 30, let's do it again Feb. 28th O.K.?

Marcia E.
Marcia E.7 years ago

I will turn my lights off and any other unsed electrical item off daily, and I will join you on Jan. 30. Will you join ME/US at the ZEV Independence from Oil rally on July 4, 2008.


Beth Lukewich
Beth L.7 years ago

First, I'm all for a method of reducing waste such as too many lights on for no reason. I do have a question about an occupancy sensor... what is it sensing? Movement? Would it shut off the lights while someone is sitting quietly reading, studying, watching telly, at the computer? Even a timer on the lights would be helpful... set the timer when you enter a room to 15, 30 mins, or 1, 2 hours (however long you estimate you'll be there). (That'd even help me with my time management) :-D

Deb Ryan
Deb R.7 years ago

Great idea,THANKS

Mia Ruiz
Mia Ruiz7 years ago

Same problem in my house with my 7 yr old...I turn the bathroom light off 6-10 times every evening....grrrrrr.

Mia Ruiz
Mia Ruiz7 years ago

Same problem in my house with my 7 yr old...I turn the bathroom light off 6-10 times every evening....grrrrrr.