You might wonder: “Does energy-efficient lighting really matter?” Whether it is the only energy saving plan you have or part of a number of actions you will be taking, the short answer is “Yes!”
For some families, lighting matters more than it does for other families. If you are coping with young children who just can’t remember to turn the light off or with very old lighting fixtures, you might see a big benefit in upgrading your lighting. When you consider that lighting incurs about 20% of the cost of your electric bill, upgrades can result in a big savings for your family.
There are several changes you can make to improve the energy efficiency of the lighting in your home.
- Switch your light bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs. Keep in mind that CFLs cost more to purchase, but they should last at least 5 years. Use the right type of CFL in each fixture – use three-way bulbs in three-way fixtures, use covered reflectors in recessed fixtures, and use dimmer bulbs in sockets attached to a dimmer switch. Keep in mind also that fluorescent bulbs use a little bit more power when they are first turned on, but after that use only about 25% as much energy as incandescent bulbs. If you plan to make the switch gradually, start by replacing bulbs in the most frequently used fixtures.
- Upgrade lighting fixtures to Energy Star-rated efficient fixtures. Like fluorescent bulbs, fluorescent fixtures may cost a little bit more to purchase, but they will use 75% less energy than incandescent fixtures. They also provide light without creating as much heat, which can be very important when you are trying to keep the house cool.
- Switch to LED lighting where it makes sense. Light-emitting diode (LED) lights use an entirely new technology. LEDs use very little power to light an area. They work by moving electrons through a semiconductor material. With normal use, they last more than 20 years and use at least 75% less energy than incandescent lights. Because these lights produce only minimal heat, they are perfect for places where air circulation might be restricted, such as recessed lights.
- Make use of switches and devices that help you save power. For example, if you have young children who tend to forget to turn off lights, use a motion-activated switch or a timer that will turn the light off after a given amount of time. If everyone is out of the house all day, but you want to come home to a well-lit house, put key lighting fixtures on timers instead of leaving them on all day. Instead of traditional night-lights, use motion-activated lights to help people see where they are going at night. If your family uses certain rooms at regular times of day, install timed dimmers on lights to use less energy when it is not needed. You can even use switches that adjust the brightness of the lights to react to the amount of natural light, more in the morning and on bright days, and less at night and on overcast days.
Considering that lighting accounts for about 20% of your total energy bill, energy-efficient lighting does make a difference. By switching to energy-efficient bulbs and fixtures, and using timers, dimmers and other special switches, you can make a difference in your total energy usage. Cooler-burning lights will also prevent heat build up in your home when lights are burning.
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