Household lighting uses about 10% of your home’s total energy. When you walk into a room, you probably flip the light switch automatically. And sometimes you forget to switch it off when you leave. Besides remembering to turn off lights when you leave the room, here are some other ideas on saving energy on home lighting.
1. Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) instead of incandescent bulbs. Not only do CFLs provide plenty of light, but they use two-thirds less energy and last ten times as long as incandescent bulbs. CFLs come in soft white, bluish “outdoor” light, and other colors and levels of brightness. They are cooler than incandescent bulbs, too, making them a safer choice as well as an energy-efficient one.
Look for CFLs with the Energy Star emblem on the label. This means that the bulbs meet strict criteria issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
2. Outdoor lighting can use a lot of energy, too, especially if you have lights that burn all night. Some energy-efficient options for outdoor lighting include solar lights, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and CFLs.
Solar lights “soak up” sunlight during the day (the sun charges a battery in the light) and come on when it gets dark, staying on all night. CFL floodlights are available, with protective fixtures that make them suitable for outdoor use. LEDs are a newer kind of light technology, using even less energy than CFLs and burning more brightly than incandescents.
3. Motion sensors and automatic daylight shut-off are good features for saving energy. Hall lights, outdoor floodlights, and night-time bathroom lighting are well-suited to these kinds of features. The light only comes on when you need it.
4. Lamp timers help guard against forgetting to turn lights off. If you set the timer so that the lamp comes on at dusk and goes off at dawn, it acts something like a daytime shut-off device. Lamp timers can be set so that the lamp comes on and goes off at various times of the day or night, too.
5. A note on turning lights off when you leave the room – if you have CFLs and are leaving the room and plan to come back in a few minutes, leave the CFLs on. Turning them off and on within the span of a few minutes shortens their lifespan and uses more energy than leaving them on for a few minutes. A good general guideline is to turn off the CFLs if you will be out of the room for more than 15 minutes.
5. Natural lighting is the most energy-efficient choice. Position mirrors in your rooms so that they reflect window light. If privacy is an issue, consider vinyl window coverings that obscure the view while letting in light. Painting rooms with glossy, light-colored paint also increases the amount of natural light. Another thing you can do is rearrange your furniture to make sure light is not being blocked from coming in the windows.
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