Energy-efficient Lighting 101: Using the Right Bulb

Going green with your lighting design can be as simple as swapping out light bulbs.
Going green with your lighting design can be as simple as swapping out light bulbs.

It seems like you can't flip through a magazine, turn on the TV or log on to your favorite website without getting hit with some kind of news regarding the need for greater energy efficiency. If you're unsure of where to begin, making your own home more energy efficient can feel overwhelming.

Fortunately, going green at home can be a simple process that will both help the environment and allow you to save money. What's more, lighting design can be a big part of this.

Making the Switch
Your first order of business will be switching out any old-fashioned light bulbs with an energy-efficient alternative.

Using energy-efficient light bulbs, such as compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) options, is a small way to make a big change in your home.

When compared to incandescent light bulbs, CFL and LED lighting not only offer energy and money savings, they also require less upkeep. Energy-efficient light bulbs are designed to last longer, which means less time spent replacing burned-out bulbs.

A Wealth of Options
If you count yourself among the people who take their home décor seriously, you'll be pleased to know energy-efficient light bulbs come in all shapes and sizes, allowing you to play around with different looks for just the right aesthetic.

For example, beyond standard light bulb shapes, you can also choose from spiral bulbs, covered A-shapes, tubed bulbs, candle bulbs and much more.

Energy Star outlines how different types of energy-efficient bulbs may suit specific needs.

For example, if you want the classic look of incandescent light bulbs, an A-shaped option may be your best bet.

"A-shaped bulbs combine the efficiency of the spiral bulbs, with the look and feel of the traditional incandescents," according to Energy Star. "These products are great for consumers who don't like the look of the spiral bulbs but still want efficient lighting. You can use A-shaped bulbs wherever you used to use traditional incandescent bulbs, such as clip-on lamp shades. Check the packaging for compatibility with dimmers and three-way fixtures."

Meanwhile, since candle-shaped light bulbs tend to be smaller, they may be the ideal option for wall sconces or other miniscule lighting fixtures.

More Strategies for Extra Savings
Replacing light bulbs is far from the only way to increase energy savings at your home – there are plenty of easy habits you can get into to make a difference.

For instance, make it a habit to turn off any lighting fixtures in rooms that aren't being used. Investing in dimmer switches can also be a smart strategy. This allows you to control how much illumination fixtures emit at any given time, and make it easier to perfect the atmosphere in your home, as well as use less energy by dimming lights to a lower setting when appropriate.

Finally, investing in automated lighting fixtures, such as motion-sensor or timed lights for your exterior, can cut costs and energy expenditures as well.

Energy Efficiency

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