The green revolution continues to gain momentum worldwide, and the world of lighting is making rapid advances in energy conservation and wise use of power. The great news about going green in lighting is that it will put more money in your wallet or pocketbook as well. Going green makes sense for the planet and your budget.
There are many, many ways that you can improve your home lighting’s efficiency, which will be good for the environment and your account balance. Any modifications that you make will affect up to 15% of your total energy budget in the average American house, for example, a significant slice of your costs.
Picture 1: Before installing solar panels you should optimize your lighting
Here are several areas in which you can make slight adjustments and vastly increase your home lighting’s power for the money:
Incandescent lamps are SO 20th Century! Did you know that these ancient bulbs convert only 10% of the energy that they consume into light? That’s unacceptable in the 21st Century! These lamps are so inefficient because their basic technology is 100 years old. A growing trend is the use of Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). These lamps are 3 times as efficient as incandescents. Sure, they take a few seconds to reach full light strength, but the savings are more than worth it. You can use a 20-watt CFL to replace a 75-watt incandescent bulb, and by doing that, you will save more than $20 per year per bulb if it’s used 8 hours/ day. Given that CFLs last up to 10 years, you’ve pocketed $200+ with one bulb change, after an initial investment of $4. Who would not take that rate of return? Now, multiply that throughout your home and all of the sudden you look like a green financial genius.
Another option for phasing out your incandescent bulbs are halogen lights. If you need intense, focused light upon activation, halogens are a good choice, although the torchieres that burn so hot are now illegal in the U.S. and not recommended elsewhere. You can find energy-efficient torchieres if you look around, but they might not be halogen lamps.
Light fixtures and switches
In addition to bulb choice, light fixtures are a great way to cut costs and increase efficiency. You can shop for Energy Star-compliant lamps for starters, but also use a variety of switches to maximize savings and power. Consider the installation of dimmers, two- or three-way switches, automated controls for all of your household lights that turn them off at certain regular times, etc. The more precise control that you have over all of your home’s lights, the more likely that they will be turned off when not used and turned on only when needed. Automation makes it easy to accomplish this, and you will get a 100% return on your initial investment fairly quickly. More people than you think now control their home’s lights from their laptop or iPad. They don’t have to walk out onto the deck in the middle of winter to turn out a light or follow behind the kids in every room to see that the lights are extinguished. They simply take a peek at their screen, turn out lights that are not in use, and smile with deep satisfaction knowing that they are constantly saving money.
Light sensors and other ideas
Obviously, sensors are another good way to save money on light use. You don’t need most of your outdoor lights constantly running. Set up a sensor so that they turn on only when you need to see who or what is walking towards your garage door, for instance.
Other ideas for improving your fixtures and control of your lights include: solar-powered fixtures to run your landscape lights, or ones with timers (this is essential; you will often forget to turn off landscape lights and run up higher bills while you sleep); using LEDs whenever possible in your landscape lighting – they last forever and are extremely efficient; fan/light combinations indoors are proven energy savers.
Other ways to save in the home are so simple you might not have thought of them. For example, are you using daylight as efficiently as you can in your home? Can you trim the trees outside to let more daylight in and cut down on your electrical use? You probably can. Another way to use that sunlight is to ramp up your use of solar power. It’s not as expensive as you think to purchase a panel, and sunlight can do a lot to heat your house and power lights both inside and outside your home.