Seeing to Energy-Efficient Lighting - dummies

By Eric Corey Freed

Lighting the average home accounts for about one-third of its energy use. You can conserve energy by changing to CFL (compact fluorescent) or LED light bulbs, maximizing sunlight (called daylighting), and using energy-saving switches and dimmers.Traditional incandescent bulbs waste energy, give off a lot of heat, and constantly burn out. Newer lighting choices are a vast energy improvement. Combine them with practices that put natural sunlight to good use, and you’ll be seeing green.

1Switching to compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs.

CFLs fit into a standard light bulb socket, use a fraction of the energy of their incandescent counterparts, produce 70 percent less heat, and last ten times longer — typically 10,000 hours.

CFLs are made with a tiny amount of mercury, so purchase low-mercury bulbs and dispose of them through your local hazardous waste disposal program — don’t just throw them in with your everyday trash.

2Lighting with LEDs.

A light-emitting diode (LED) is a tiny semiconductor that emits light. LEDs are twice as energy efficient as incandescent bulbs, though not as efficient as CFLs. As new types of LED bulbs are designed, they’re becoming more affordable for common household use.

3Sensing occupancy.

Occupancy sensors turn on the lights when someone enters the room and shut off after a set period of no movement. They replace your normal light switch.

4Being smart about clever switches and dimmers.

Use lights with plunger-type switches in closets — the light comes on when the door opens and turns off when you close the door. Dimmer switches save energy and extend bulb life.

5Channeling the sun through skylights.

Skylights are rooftop windows. They bring in twice the light of a traditional window of the same size.

6Guiding sunlight into your home with a sun tunnel.

A sun tunnel (also known as a sun tube, sun pipe, and solar tube) brings light into a room by bouncing sunlight through a small dome skylight on the roof connected to another skylight on the ceiling of the room.

7Arranging mirrors strategically.

Place mirrors to reflect light and reduce the number of light fixtures and/or light bulbs you need. You can get mirrors that contain no lead, and because glass itself it a natural material, mirrors are inherently green (although you cannot recycle mirrored glass).

8Placing shelves for light.

Place light-colored horizontal fins, called light shelves, above windows to bounce sunlight up onto the ceiling, which diffuses the light and brings it deeper into the room.

Don’t outsmart yourself by using mirrors to reflect sunlight onto your ceilings. Reflecting direct sunlight can create enough heat to burn the ceiling!