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Light Your Home Efficiently

We all remember a parent complaining about having every light in the house on. If you're paying electricity bills, you've probably said it at least once. Here are a few ways to take the edge off of those high energy costs.

Kitchen with pendant and undercabinets.

Common Lighting Terms

  • Watts is the amount of energy a light bulb uses. The lower the watts, the lower the electric bill.
  • Lumens are the standard measure of light produced by a bulb. Standard 100-watt bulbs produce about 1600 lumens. More lumens equals brighter light, fewer lumens equals dimmer light.
  • Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs use an electric current that flows between electrodes at each end of a tube containing gases. The reaction produces ultraviolet (UV) light and heat. The UV light is transformed into visible light when it strikes a phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb.
  • Light emitting diode (LED) bulbs use an electrical current passed through semiconductor material illuminates the tiny light sources called LEDs. The heat produced is absorbed into a heat sink, keeping the bulbs cool to the touch.
  • Incandescent light bulbs have a filament that's heated to the point of glowing. The glowing filament produces the bulb's light
  • Halogen bulbs use the same technology as incandescents, but are more energy effiecient.
  • Fluorescent bulbs or tubes are filled with mercury vapor that emits ultraviolet light when electricity is applied. The bulbs/tubes have a coating inside that turns the ultraviolet rays into visible light.

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Indoor Lighting Solutions

Floor lamp next to a chair.
  • CFLs save up to 75% a year in energy costs and last up to 9 years. They have a lower wattage than incandescent bulbs, but emit the same light output. This allows them to produce the same amount of light, but use less energy.
  • LEDs save up to 80% a year in energy costs and last up to 20+ years. LEDs also have a lower wattage than incandescent bulbs, but emit the same light output. This allows them to produce the same amount of light, but use less energy and is another reason they are the most energy-effiecient light bulb available.
  • Three way bulbs in touch lamps or regular three way lamps are also good ways to save energy on interior lighting. The bulb allows you to use only as much light as needed, but gives you the option of brighter light when required.
  • Dimmer switches with knob or touch sensitive controls allow adjustable light levels so you can use less light when needed.

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Outdoor Lighting Solutions

Landscape lighting.
  • Motion detectors save exterior lights from staying on all night. In addition to energy savings, they provide added security. Use motion detectors with outdoor lighting near entrances to your home and driveways.

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  • Landscape lighting such as low-voltage lighting and solar lighting can be used to light walkways with significantly less power than regular incandescent bulbs. With low voltage lighting you can also install timers and sensors to automatically turn lights on at dusk and shut them off at dawn. Solar lights charge all day in the sunlight, and light up once the sun goes down. Solar lights are slightly more expensive, but they don't require electricity or cords. Place solar lights anyplace that receives sunlight.

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