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Occupancy Sensors

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!

Read more: Home, Conservation

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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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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9:36PM PST on Feb 26, 2014

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

4:01AM PST on Mar 9, 2012

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.

2:33AM PDT on Mar 27, 2011

Thanks for the article.

12:47PM PDT on Jul 3, 2010


1:46PM PST on Feb 10, 2008

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

1:45PM PST on Feb 10, 2008

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.

10:46AM PST on Jan 31, 2008

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

10:01AM PST on Jan 31, 2008

Great idea,THANKS

11:27AM PST on Jan 30, 2008

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

11:27AM PST on Jan 30, 2008

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

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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