10 Bright Ideas for Saving on Lighting

Lightbulb© iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Be brighter! Energy-efficient bulbs have revolutionized lighting, but there are other simple ways to reduce both your lighting use and costs.

1. Reduce the wattage
An overly lit room not only wastes power, it can also make you recall places that are overlit for functional purposes, such as factories and offices. Choose bulbs whose wattage matches both the purpose of the room and the atmosphere you would like to create.

2. Avoid multiple fittings
Don’t be fooled by the idea that you can trade a single incandescent light for multiple lights with low-wattage bulbs and come out in front. You almost certainly won’t. The more lights you have, the more power you use.

3. Use multiple switches
When installing lighting in a large open-plan space, install multiple switches to cover the different areas. That way you can restrict your use of lighting to the area you want to use.

4. Install dimmers
Dimming reduces the amount of electricity a light uses and increases the life of low-voltage lighting such as halogen downlights. When you buy bulbs, check that they will work with a dimmer.

5. Use lamps
An electrical lamp will give you ample light at a lower cost than an overhead light. It can also enhance the ambiance of a room or, if necessary, provide focused light for tasks such as sewing.

6. Install motion detectors
When installing security lighting outdoors, make sure the lights have built-in motion sensors or timers so they only operate when needed.

7. Go solar
Illuminate paths with lamps fitted with batteries that store energy from the sun.

8. Keep lights clean
A dusty light bulb or a dirty lampshade can obstruct as much as half the light. Dust the bulb and wipe or wash the shade regularly.

9. Be natural
Install skylights in darker rooms or as natural downlights in work rooms such as kitchens. If you’re buying or building a new house or apartment, or are undertaking a renovation, position the rooms and spaces where you spend most time during the day to the north or northeast so they capture the lion’s share of daylight.

10. Turn the lights off
Unplug appliances as soon as you stop using them. This advice is as old as electric lighting itself, and still the key to saving on use and costs.

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