Let there be light. It’s a necessity in our homes–and Americans typically spend 5% to 10% of their total energy budget on lighting, at a cost of $75 to $200 a year. Today, though, there are better ways to illuminate our lives. They involve new kinds of lamps and bulbs, better controls, and smarter lighting strategies. Most of these options aren’t costly or complicated. They make it easy for every household to save money and megawatts.
- Lights out! The most energy-saving electric light is the one that isn’t on. Even if you’re just leaving the room for a few minutes, you’ll save energy by turning off the lights. That’s true for any kind of bulb.
- Free lighting. Illuminating your home with daylight doesn’t use electricity or add heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere. Plus natural light can make a room cheery and comfortable. If you need more daylight in your home, read about windows and skylights. Also try using reflection. White and light-colored ceilings, walls, and other surfaces reflect daylight, bouncing it deeper into rooms and helping you get away with little or no electric lighting during the day. Arrange rooms to make the most of daylight. Put reading chairs and kitchen tables near windows. Look for ways to share daylight between rooms. If you’re planning a major remodel, think about removing some interior walls to open up spaces. Add windows above doors, and interior windows or translucent partitions between rooms. Finally, do you have voluminous drapes? Make sure your window coverings aren’t keeping the light of day from reaching you.
At Sierra Club Green Home, we have four good ways to bring your lighting technology into the 21st century. Take your pick, or better yet, read them all: Lamps; Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs); Light-emitting Diodes (LEDs); and Lighting Controls.