We need light, and light needs energy. Globally, about 19% of electricity generated is used for lighting. How we use light at home, how energy-efficient we are through our habits, and how sustainable the products are – it all matters. Let’s look at some of the top ways we can incorporate energy-efficient lighting on our homes.
- 1 / Switch All Lights to LED
- 2 / Use Your Walls Effectively
- 3 / Use Energy-efficient Lighting Controls
- 4 / Use Focused Lighting
- 5 / Use Lamps
- 6 / Maintain Fixtures & Light Bulbs Well
- 7 / Incorporate Natural Light into your Floor Plan
- 8 / Buy from Sustainable, Energy-efficient Lighting Brands
- 9 / Dispose of Bulbs Properly
- 10 / Make Use of Sunlight and Fireplace
By modifying our purchases and, most importantly, our habits, we can make our home lighting systems more eco-friendly. Whether you’re building a new house, renovating your home, or just making small adjustments to your rented place, these tips will help you save money, save energy, and save some trouble for the environment.
1 / Switch All Lights to LED
LED (Light Emitting Diode) is a completely different technology to traditional incandescent light bulbs. LED bulbs are much more energy-efficient (reducing energy consumption by up to 90%) and extremely long-lasting (about 100,000 hours). Of course, they cost more up-front than regular bulbs, but they last longer, so it’s definitely a money-saver in the long run. They will help cut down your energy bills as well.
What about CFL? Compact fluorescent lamps were the energy-efficient bulbs before LED came into the picture. CFL bulbs cost more than incandescent bulbs, but use 25% of the energy. And they last for about 10,000 hours.
If you can’t get LEDs but can get CFL, go for it.
2 / Use Your Walls Effectively
You can impact the mood of a room with just how you light it up.
1 // Wall Wash
If you have taken an art class, you know that light on flat surfaces can make a big difference. You can use this info to set up accent lighting that uses energy efficiently. Your room walls act as light reflectors and as a canvas. Using a lighting set-up that “washes” your wall with light, which then diffuses through the room as even illumination, can reduce your energy consumption. Plus, it could look really cool!
Wall washing basically is a beam of light that falls on the wall at a wide angle. The origin of the light beam is under your control, and so is the angle of light. Play around and have fun. You can light up just one wall, or the ceiling, and attain several different effects.
2 // Wall Paint
If your walls can act as a canvas and a reflector, then surely the color of the walls will make a difference. Dark wall colors combined with dim lighting give a completely different effect than light colors with the same lighting. Also, dark colors will absorb light and store it as heat (wonder why it feels cooler in a dark-walled room?). Light colors, meanwhile, will reflect light and make the ambient space seem warmer. So, you can use eco-friendly paints to more efficiently light up your rooms at home.
3 / Use Energy-efficient Lighting Controls
Lighting controls can automatically turn lights on when required and off when they’re not needed. They can reduce brightness levels, and perform various other functions that are convenient. Dimmer switches, timers, preset lighting control, motion sensors, occupancy sensors, etc are among the many different types of lighting control available for your home. Such additions can be retrofitted into your lighting system (dimmable bulbs), and will help you save energy by using less wattage and extending the life of your lights.
4 / Use Focused Lighting
Task lighting, where you focus the light on a small space, is a useful tactic to save on energy. Instead of lighting up the entire room, you could just have a bedside lamp for your reading needs. You could light up your favorite wall painting to bring focus to it. You could set up a small light near the door that will illuminate your keys when you head out at night.
Such practical task lighting can be used instead of switching on the overhead light and flooding the room with brightness (unless that is what is required, of course). The point of task lighting is to illuminate according to the task’s requirements, whether it is light reading or embroidery (which would require bright, clear light).
5 / Use Lamps
Lamps also fulfill the task lighting description, but are something we’re way more familiar with. Think of it as area lighting, sort of like an area rug! Lamps provide accent and ambience lighting, and can also work as a beautiful decor item. Floor lamps, table lamps, hanging lamps – they can all serve different purposes and make your home look good while doing it. Plus, when you use energy-efficient lighting in the lamps, you will end up saving money on your electric bill.
6 / Maintain Fixtures & Light Bulbs Well
Maintenance is a big part of efficiency, and the same is true of lighting. Wipe your light bulbs and fixtures regularly with a soft, dry cloth. This will remove dust particles and dirt, and help the bulbs maintain their full luminosity for longer. Make sure the lights are turned off when you’re touching them!
Part of the overall maintenance of lights is to turn them off when they’re not being used. Not only will this prevent wastage of energy, but avoids unnecessary overuse of the product. This also extends to switching off power strips when they’re not in use.
Also, remember to responsibly recycle your used fluorescent tubes as well as the used LED and CFL lights, once you’re done with them.
7 / Incorporate Natural Light into your Floor Plan
This tip is for you if you’re still planning the layout before building your new home. Discuss open floor plans with your architect, and incorporate natural lighting. Depending on the behavior of the Sun where you will live, you can modify the plans to allow more sunlight to flood the house, which will influence the position and type of artificial lighting you can have indoors. You can place windows in the right orientation – to allow more or less light in at various times of the day. Add skylights, too.
Daylighting, the practice of designing a space for maximum use of daytime sunlight, can improve your mood, and not just because you’re saving money. Daylighting results in lower energy bills because you’re using less electricity.
You will need the help of an expert here, so keep that in mind.
8 / Buy from Sustainable, Energy-efficient Lighting Brands
Whether you’re just building your house, or you live in a temporary rented place, sustainability can be brought into your lighting options – by buying new products from eco-friendly lighting brands. Buying Christmas lights? Opt for the sustainably made LED ones. Lamp broke, and you need a new one? Try the brand that makes recycled lamps.
9 / Dispose of Bulbs Properly
LED and CFL bulbs last a long time, and need to be properly disposed of. CFL bulbs contain mercury, so definitely do not throw them in the garbage. You will have to contact your local recycling center and find out if you can recycle your light bulbs. In any case, responsibly dispose of the used bulbs is very important.
10 / Make Use of Sunlight and Fireplace
The most energy-efficient lighting option is, of course, the Sun. Use the daytime light as much as you can, by keeping your window blinds open, curtains drawn.
In winter, when your fireplace is crackling away, it’s a great source of light. Turn off any unnecessary light sources if the fireplace lights up enough of your space. (This may all seem like common sense, but many of us forget about it.)
If you’ve been wondering how the efficiency of your lighting system can be improved, you hopefully found some answers here in this post. What you should be looking for while buying a new lighting product is its energy-efficiency, quality and longevity. Paying more for an excellent product beats buying cheap crap anyday.
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