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Designing or Modifying a Home for Energy-Efficient Lighting

Whether you’re considering building a new home or making changes to an existing home, thoughtful lighting design can play a crucial role when it comes to the comfort, quality and energy efficiency of your home’s lighting. To help you make the best lighting decisions for your home, we’ve put together a list of some tips for designing effective indoor and outdoor lighting that can reduce your residential electric costs.

Designing Energy-Efficient Indoor Lighting

There are a few basic principles that can help you design effective, energy-efficient indoor lighting for your home:

– The most important thing to realize is that human visual performance depends as much on the quality of light in a home as it does on the quantity of light.
– Ambient light may look good, but it is neither effective nor energy efficient. Instead, use task lighting that shines directly on work areas, such as the kitchen counter, rather than trying to light the whole house.
– Match the appropriate amount and quality of light to the function you plan on performing in a particular space.
– Use energy-efficient lights, like CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs or LEDs (light-emitting diodes), as well as energy-efficient controls and systems, such as light fixtures and devices for controlling lights remotely.
– Be sure to maximize daylighting.

Now that you understand the basic principals to indoor lighting, here are some methods for you to achieve the quality and energy efficiency you’re looking for:

– Install wall- and ceiling-mounted fluorescent light fixtures for all high-demand areas such as the kitchen, living room, bathrooms, halls, and bedrooms in which lights will be used for more than two hours every day.
– Install dedicated CFL fixtures instead of simply using CFL bulbs in incandescent fixtures.
– When using recessed lighting in ceilings, make sure to use only airtight fixtures that are approved by Underwriters Laboratory (UL), are IC (insulation contact) rated, and meet ASTM E283 requirements.
– Make sure all lighting fixtures are labeled and certified by ENERGY STAR.
– Use occupancy or motion sensors in rooms, bathrooms, pantries, and utility rooms-to automatically turn on and off lights as needed.
– Consider painting interior spaces with light colors that reflect light and reduce the need for artificial lighting during the day.

Energy-Efficient Outdoor Lighting for Safety, Usefulness and Good Looks

When designing energy-efficient outdoor lighting around your home, it’s important to consider the three main reasons for outdoor lighting: security, utility, and aesthetics:

Lighting for security typically involves illuminating the grounds surrounding the home and large areas such as the driveway.

Lighting for utility usually involves illuminating exterior areas around the home and providing safe navigation where people are expected to walk at night, such as the porch, driveway, and walkways.

Lighting for aesthetics means improving the appearance of the home at night by illuminating the home’s exterior and landscaped areas.

Here are some basic principals when it comes to designing effective and efficient outdoor lighting:

– Opt for fluorescent, high-intensity discharge, LEDs, or low-pressure sodium lights instead of inefficient incandescent lights that cost more money to use and don’t last as long.
– Consider lower-watt options for security and utility lighting, which doesn’t need to be bright to work well.
– Use photosensors or timers to save energy and increase convenience by automatically turning lights on at night and off in the morning.
– For security lights, consider using floodlights combined with photosensors and motion sensors.
– Opt for ground-installed solar-powered outdoor lighting fixtures around places that get a lot of suns, such as walkways, for cheap utility lighting that looks good.
– To make more efficient use of outdoor lighting and reduce light pollution for neighbors, be sure to install reflectors, deflectors, or covers on your light fixtures.


Energy Savers website, Indoor Lighting Design.

Energy Savers website, Outdoor Lighting Design.

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