Your home offers countless opportunities to upgrade and save energy, from the filter on the bathroom faucet to the insulation in the attic. But few energy upgrades are as easy and affordable as getting your lighting in tune with Mother Earth. With a few simple changes, you can save energy, cut costs, and enjoy not having to change a lightbulb for a long time.
Replace Your Standard Bulbs with Efficient Bulbs
Traditional incandescent bulbs are all but obsolete. Three types of energy-saving bulbs have risen to the challenge of replacing them: halogen incandescent, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Halogen incandescents last up to three times longer than traditional bulbs. They are about 10 to 20 percent more energy efficient than traditional incandescents and last nearly three times as long. CFLs take it up a notch; they use 75 percent less energy than regular incandescent bulbs and last 8 to 10 times longer. LEDs also use 75 percent less energy, and can last up to 25 times longer. But make sure that you consider more than energy efficiency, price, and the life of the bulb; replacing all of the bulbs in your house with strictly LEDs or CFLs could lead to an unappealing result. You’ll want to do your research to make sure you’re using the best type and color of bulb for the location and fixture.
Upgrade Your Light Fixtures
You can make any light fixture more efficient by upgrading to one of these three bulbs, but the improvements don’t have to stop there. Whether your priority is updating your home’s ambiance, using less energy, or both, look for ENERGY STAR certified fixtures. They work in tandem with the efficient bulbs to distribute light more efficiently, come with features like dimming or automatic shutoff, and use about 70 to 90 percent less energy than regular fixtures. They also come in hundreds of styles so you don’t have to sacrifice aesthetic to make the responsible choice.
Install a Solar Tube
A house with too few windows can be a problem. You may end up needing to leave lights on even during the day, and you miss out on the refreshing visual access to sunlight and the outdoors. If you have this problem in any frequently-used rooms or hallways, consider installing a solar tube. This fixture is a sheet-metal tube with a reflective material. The top goes on the roof to capture sunlight, which then channels it down to a diffusing fixture on your ceiling. Unlike skylights, solar tubes can bring sunlight to interior rooms. They cost about $500 to $1000 and the light they provide during the day is totally free.
Automate Your Lighting
Automation used to seem like a dream of the future, one that was all about convenience and luxury. But today’s home automation is both exciting and practical; with the right equipment and integration, you can save money and preserve energy. A home automation system allows you to wirelessly turn off unused lights, dim lights to set the mood, and arrange the lights to turn on when the sensors detect occupants in a certain area. The personalization of your lights to your lifestyle means that you get only the light that you want and need, without wasting excess energy. Consider integrating your home automation with other systems, like your HVAC, for optimum energy savings.
Get the Right Outdoor Lighting
Due to the fact that outdoor lights are usually left on all night, CFLs and LEDs are great long-lasting options that will save you money. Both types are available as weather-resistant flood lights that can integrate with your home security system. When choosing bulbs and fixtures, look for options like automatic daylight shutoff and motion sensors so that you can get optimum energy savings. When it comes to decorative lights, there are also plenty of LED and CFL options. And don’t forget about outdoor solar lights, which don’t need wiring, don’t contribute to your electric bills, and don’t have the location limitations that wired lights do. Other helpful tips include:
- Think of your lampshades like curtains; if they’re lightweight and light in color, they’ll allow more light into the room. To get the most out of your bulbs, pick white or neutral lampshades.
- Research the advantages and disadvantages of different types of lights. For example, halogen light bulbs burn hotter and can be a fire hazard. If you buy the wrong type of LED, you may end up with a color you don’t want or a look that doesn’t suit your needs.
- If you’re making a gradual change to energy efficient light, replace your most-used lights and fixtures first. You may not get as much bang for your buck replacing a closet light as you would an overhead kitchen light.