Indoor Lighting: Focus on Savings
Lighting is essential for comfort and security, but it accounts for 15 percent of the electrical costs in a typical home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Reducing lighting energy use is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce your utility bills. The following are five low-cost measures that can help you start saving today.
Turn off lights. Lighting empty spaces is not exactly a bright idea, but that light switch is easy to overlook. Encourage every member of your household to turn off lights when they leave a room.
Switch to energy-efficient bulbs. Replace inefficient incandescent lamps with high-efficiency light-emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs use about 75 percent less energy than conventional bulbs, and they last much longer. Purchase products with the ENERGY STAR® label to ensure quality and performance.
Free natural light. There's plenty of sunlight available during the day, and it won't cost you a dime. Turn off lights and open blinds, shades and other window treatments to let in the sunshine.
Take control. Install three-way lamps and dimmer switches to reduce energy use while using the exact amount of light you need. Consider installing occupancy sensors to control lights in the garage, storage rooms and other parts of the home that are rarely used.
Where you need it. Instead of lighting an entire room, focus low-power light where you need it (task lighting). For example, try using a portable lamp for your home office or install under cabinet lighting in your kitchen.
Getting to know lumens
For years, you've shopped for lights based on wattage, which measures the amount of electricity used. In today's energy-efficient lighting market, it's more important to look at lumens, which measure the light output or brightness of a bulb.
Where do you find the lumens for a bulb? The U.S. Federal Trade Commission requires most lighting products to display a Lighting Facts label. These labels will tell you the brightness of a bulb in lumens. If you're still a little confused about what level of brightness to look for, many energy-efficient lighting packages also include "wattage equivalent" information to help find the right lumen level compared to the 40-, 60-, or 75-watt bulbs that you're used to.