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Energy - Lighting Efficiency

Lighting for Energy Efficiency

Lighting includes both electric lighting and natural lighting from the sun, or day lighting. Although day lighting in homes is not a large source of energy savings, it can dramatically increase the comfort and livability of the home. Where day lighting isn't practical, you should consider installing energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy-efficient lighting fixtures and controls.

Homes that incorporate these features not only use less electricity, but also stay cooler in the summer because less heat is being generated by lights. Light bulbs also create uneven heat loads in your home, which makes constant and even temperature control harder to achieve.

Day lighting

Effective day lighting is difficult to achieve as a retrofit to an existing house. Although skylights are an obvious approach, they often cause overheating in the summer and heat loss in the winter. Triangular "roof monitors," with vertical glazing, are a more energy-efficient approach.

You can also enhance your use of existing daylight through careful interior design. Bright interior colors help reflect daylight into the interior of the house. Desks, reading chairs, and dining room tables can be strategically located to best use the available light, but beware of glare problems if locating a computer in a daylight area

Electric Lighting

Although lighting accounts for only 3.3% of the energy use in homes, it often accounts for a large fraction of the electricity bill. You can cut your electricity use significantly by installing energy-efficient lights, fixtures, and controls.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs can replace the incandescent light bulbs in most light fixtures in your home, and they are now widely available. Compact fluorescent lights use one-fourth the amount of electricity that incandescent lamps use, and they last seven times longer. Because they use less electricity, compact fluorescents also reduce carbon emissions, which is good for the environment. For a detailed analysis of the lights in your house to see which ones should be replaced, see Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Energy Advisor.

Torchieres are a fashionable and inexpensive means of lighting a home, but they are large energy wasters. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a torchiere that uses compact fluorescent light bulbs to significantly cut energy use. These are now commercially available.

For outdoor lighting, consider combining energy-efficient light bulbs with motion sensors that only turn on the lights when people are present. This approach provides convenience and security while greatly reducing energy use.

When choosing any kind of lighting fixture, whether indoor or outdoor, look for the ENERGY STAR label.

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