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A Homeowner's Guide to Eco-Friendly Lighting

Dec 23, 2013 | by Wendy Weinert

Less is more when it comes to eco-friendly lighting solutions for your home. Using less energy not only saves you money, but is also beneficial to the environment. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, residential lighting accounts for approximately 12 percent of the total U.S. electricity consumption. Choosing more energy-efficient bulbs can make a significant impact on the environment and your wallet. While eco-friendly lighting options may require a bigger upfront investment, making the switch can trim your electric bill long-term while improving your carbon footprint.

Making improvements to your home lighting is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to cut down on your energy bills. The average household distributes up to 10 percent of its energy solely to lighting, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. If you're still using traditional incandescent light bulbs in your home, it's time to make the switch to more energy efficient LED (light emitting diode) or CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs. LED bulbs provide direction-specific lighting that generally lasts between 40,000 and 80,000 hours. CFL's consume nearly one quarter of the energy of an incandescent bulb, saving money on electricity, as well as the cost of frequent bulb replacements. Modern CFL bulbs offer color rendition and brightness that is comparable to incandescent bulbs, but use only a fraction of the energy consumption. Just like traditional bulbs, CLFs are now designed to be compatible with dimmer switches and can operate like incandescent lighting fixtures. Going "green" with your lighting choices doesn't mean you need to sacrifice design for efficiency. Many modern lighting options combine eco-friendly values with incredible design for the best of both worlds. Choosing the right lighting fixtures can also make an impact on your home's energy efficiency. Lighting set to motion sensors is an excellent way to keep lights turned off when they are not in use. Dimmers also provide just the right amount of light, and can set the mood while still illuminating the space effectively.

Incorporate eco-friendly lighting into your indoor and outdoor décor. For example, installing solar lighting systems along your exterior walkway or around your garden can enhance evening ambiance without the use of electric energy. Unlike power garden lights that require electric energy, solar powered lighting harnesses its power from the sun. When the sun goes down, the solar energy turns the lamps on. Inside the home, use lighting wisely to properly illuminate spaces. Large overhead lighting is generally not needed in small spaces, such as cabinets, pantries and closets. Instead, opt for more energy-efficient LED stick-on lighting that runs off rechargeable batteries. Lamps and lighting fixtures with the Energy Star label are also eco-friendly. Unless you're reading or need overhead lighting for some other reason, choose to turn on a small lamp instead to save energy. Turning off lights when you leave the home or when a room is not in use for extended periods of time is another easy way to keep energy costs low. According to Energy Star, switching to a certified light bulb can save $40 to $135 in electricity costs over a lifetime, uses 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb, and lasts 10 to 25 times longer. Energy Star bulbs also produce 75 percent less heat, making it a safer lighting solution for homeowners.

Replacing your old or inefficient bulbs with LED, CFL or other more efficient options is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to conserve energy. In addition to switching bulbs and fixtures, use natural lighting whenever possible instead of artificial lighting. Opening windows and setting up reflective surfaces during the day allows natural light to flood your home. Older homes with smaller windows can greatly benefit by replacing them with larger, more modern windows. Whether you are motivated by the environmental advantages or the long-term cost savings, making the switch to eco-friendly lighting in your home is the ultimate green home solution.

For more information relating to eco-friendly lighting options in the home, or to learn how you can easily save money on your electricity bills by choosing more energy-efficient light bulbs and fixtures, visit the following resources: