During the day, the best way to illuminate a house is, of course, with natural light. Properly placed windows and skylights bring in huge amounts of free light every day of the year among other obvious benefits. But that’s a big subject on its own. Alternatively, for areas that are impractical for windows or skylight installations, you might consider adding a solar tube skylight for natural, no-cost lighting.
Getting back to artificial lighting, here are some tips for cutting energy use without compromising on the quality of your indoor and outdoor lighting:
– Provide brighter, more focused lighting for tasks instead of raising the levels of overhead or background lights.
– When planning lighting for rooms that need a lot of light, such as the kitchen, start with a bright, central overhead fixture rather than loading up on background or accent lighting.
– Install dimmer switches for better control on appropriate fixtures. Dimmers allow you to set the right mood with different light levels and also help save energy during times when you don’t need full lighting.
– If you leave some lights on for security when you’re away from home, use timers to save energy and create a more realistic impression that you’re home.
– Replace standard outdoor flood lamps with outdoor-rated CFLs. Wattages of 9 to 18 watts are recommended for reducing glare and improving nighttime visibility.
– Use solar-powered fixtures for landscape and other outdoor lighting. These are free to operate and can be installed anywhere because they don’t have to be wired to a house circuit. Virtually every type of popular outdoor fixture is available in a solar version, including path and driveway lights, patio lights, floods and spotlights, and utility lights for outbuildings.
– Control outdoor lights with timers, photocells, or motion-sensors so lights go on only when they’re needed.
– When using incandescent bulbs, remember that a single high-wattage bulb is more efficient than multiple low-wattage bulbs.
– Replace incandescent nightlights with super-low-wattage LED lights or fluorescent fixtures. LED nightlights can use less than 0.5 watt and may never need to be replaced.
– Turn off the lights when you leave the room. This familiar parental reminder seems to have been lost on many of today’s homeowners. It’s time to get back into the habit of basic conservation.