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Home Energy Savings | November 2, 2012

The Light You Need, With the Cost Savings You Deserve

We’ve talked plenty about the pros and cons of light bulbs, but a discussion about energy efficiency shouldn’t be restricted to this alone. We need to talk about lighting efficiency, a broader topic that includes everything from lighting design to the use of timers, sensors, and dimmers.

Lighting Design
Regardless of the type of energy-saving bulb you use, you should evaluate where light is needed. Task lighting under kitchen cabinets and over desks, craft tables, and workbenches will give you the light you need so that you don’t have to illuminate the entire room. In the family room, where you may need more light on occasion, install multiple fixtures on separate circuits. This will give you more control over how much light you use.

You also can bolster your lighting efficiency just by dusting off lamps and reflectors and casting a critical eye to each room’s color palette. Lighting efficiency increases when walls, ceilings, floors, and furniture are lighter and reflect the light. Furthermore, placing lamps in corners will reflect light from two wall surfaces, thereby producing more usable light.

Lighting-Control Technology
To further bolster your lighting efficiency, use timers, photosensors, and motion detectors. These devices automatically activate lights as needed, thereby saving energy. Before purchasing them, it’s a good idea to understand how they’re best used and when.

— Dimmer controls provide variable indoor lighting. They’re inexpensive and provide some energy efficiency. Unlike incandescent bulbs, CFL bulbs don’t lose their efficiency with dimming; however, some are incompatible with standard dimmers. Check the packaging before buying.

Motion sensors automatically turn on outdoor lights when they detect motion, making them useful for security and utility lighting.

Occupancy sensors detect indoor activity and conveniently turn on lights when someone enters the room and save energy by turning off lights when occupants leave.

Photosensors prevent outdoor lights from operating during daylight hours. You curtail energy use without needing to remember to turn off the lights.

Timers can be used to turn on outdoor and indoor lights at specific times. They come in two types. Manual timers plug into an electrical outlet and control lamps. In-wall programmable digital timers look like thermostats and automate all indoor and outdoor lighting.

These are just a few tactics you can use to enhance your lighting efficiency and still enjoy the light you need to live comfortably. Other ideas are available at

Our final blog in the lighting series will provide tips on how to decorate for the holidays, without breaking the bank.

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