Our special feature on greener choices around the home kicked off with a guest post on improving the energy efficiency of an existing home with small changes and targeted renovations/enhancements. This week, we’re taking a closer look at the energy efficiency of home lighting.
Replacing Old Light Fixtures and/or Bulbs
Bulb replacements can quickly pay for themselves and more. Technology and availability are currently advancing rapidly on lighting. Options, costs, and quality are always changing. With that, the real cost analysis of estimated break-even points for replacements will also change. Hopefully a little better all the time as costs and consumption go down and reliability goes up.
Switching from traditional incandescent to energy-efficient light-bulbs requires relatively little cost or effort. You do need to be savvy when selecting your bulbs, however, else it may not be a straight forward change. Old bulbs used to be a simply matter of selecting wattage, but now there is a wide array of brightness, beam angle, colour temperature, and other lightbulb options to choose from to suit your location, style, and intended use. Your light fittings are also designed to fit a certain bulb base – i.e. bayonet or screw. If you need to call an electrician to change hardwired fixtures, things can start to get expensive. You can usually get adaptors, but this plus the bulb may not fit nicely with your light and shade so choose with care. Fortunately, hubby is a bit of a whiz with all things electric and electronic. Buying our new supplies and wrangling electricians for required major changes during our new/old home renovation was his domain.
Be A Smarter Light (and Power) User
It may only save a few cents each time, but turning off lights when not in use is one of the many simple greener changes that will add-up over time. Where manual operation isn’t feasible, you can use an inexpensive timer or photosensor to automate on-off. For special locations, such as closets and cabinets, you can even use doorjamb switches to automate the lights, as long as you remember to close the door. Motion sensors are another option and work particularly well for nightlights or security. Since this post was first shared, smart bulb, plugs, and adapters have also become readily available. Investigate what options might work with your lighting and usage habits.
Take Advantage of Natural Light
Take advantage of natural window light where you can – sunshine is free and green! In our heating and cooling efficiency post, we talked about blocking and chasing sun. Lighter barriers, such as reflective or frosted film, double layer blinds, or sheer curtains can help to balance light, heat, and privacy concerns.
And on the subject of taking advantage of natural night, solar lights are a green option for outdoors, but I have to admit that I’ve yet to have a truly satisfying customer experience with garden solar lights. I’m not giving up though! Technology keeps getting better and I’m sure that we’ll find the right match for our space and climate conditions, which can be hard on outdoor lights (and everything else). Invest in something reputable and keep the warranty handy.
Keep it Cleaner and Greener
Routine maintenance on your lights and lamps might easily slip your to-do list. Put it back on your schedule. Cleaning lights and shades on a routine basis will help to ensure that you are getting the full lighting output. Cleaning the windows really brightens things up as well. I have to admit that I am a bit lax on this front. Our high ceilings mean that even our pendant lights are out-of-reach without a ladder and a dubious stretch. Fortunately, hubby is quite tall!
Decorating for Efficiency, Function, and Style
Don’t forget about using reflected light to your advantage to brighten dark spaces. It also helps to make everything look a little bit bigger. Win win! Other aspects of your home decor, like colour, texture, contrast, and placement, all play into making a space feel light and bright.
On the subject of decor, adding more lights is not only a decor mantra but can help you to use lights more efficiently. It might seem counter-productive, but options allow you to choose the right level of light for your activity. For example, without a side lamp, you may need to have on a full multi-bulb overhead fixture for light. We’re definitely suffering through this gap in some rooms at our place right now where we haven’t yet fully decorated the freshly renovated space.
A Fresh Footnote
Since this post was first shared on the blog, smart options have changed significantly for controlling lighting and much more. We’ve moved yet again though, so haven’t incorporated any of these at the old villa we were renovating when this post was written. Our new home was a fresh build, with lots of clever (and efficient) elements added during and after construction. All of the new lighting is energy efficient, but we’ve also added some nifty smart gadgets to help use be more power efficient. Stay tuned for future posts!
Our current feature topic is greener choices around the home. This month’s posts explore home energy efficiency, with a focus on doable changes for real life improvements in your existing home and budget. Check out the full mini-series: