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Jan 17, 2013 1:45 PM  PST  

GreenPointers: Efficient Lighting 

January 2013

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GreenPointers: Efficient Lighting

Our series of GreenPointers provides helpful tips for a healthier, greener home in a variety of topics. Today's topic is Efficient Lighting.

Green Pointers

Lighting, one of the top three energy users in a typical home accounts for as much as 20% of residential energy use. Replacing conventional incandescent bulbs (including halogen bulbs) with energy-efficient fluorescent and LED lighting is one of the easiest and most cost effective home improvements which will save money, energy and greenhouse gas emissions. Fluorescent and LED bulbs also last longer, sparing you the hassle of frequent replacement.

Since 2012, light bulbs sold in the United States have to meet new standards for energy efficiency. Bulb packages will also be required to have a standardized "Lighting Facts Label" that will help consumers comparison shop. This label shows the bulb's brightness, life expectancy, light appearance (from warm to cool), the amount of energy used in watts, and provides an estimated yearly energy cost.

Then new energy standards for light bulbs certainly help, but you can do your part for even greater energy savings. Here are a few tips.
Step 1


  When shopping for light bulbs, look for the Energy Star label. Energy Star qualified bulbs meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The most energy-efficient choices for home lighting are flourescents and LEDs.
Step 2


  In California, it is illegal to discard any fluorescent lamps or ballasts in the trash. All fluorescent light bulbs, tubes and ballasts (including low-mercury products) must be recycled by an authorized recycling facility. Check with your local waste and recycling hauler for disposal options.
Step 3


  Daylighting in homes is typically done through windows, glass doors, skylights and light tubes. Daylight can provide illumination suitable for most tasks without the use of electric light. In addition to the energy savings daylighting provides, it also helps create an appealing indoor environment, and is generally known to elevate people's moods. If you're planning to remodel a kitchen, bathroom or other areas of your home, take the time to evaluate whether the room's daylighting design can be improved.
Step 3


  Lighting controls save money and energy by decreasing the amount of time the lights are on, or by reducing light levels. Lighting controls can be installed either at specific locations, or as a whole house system. Lighting control options include: occupancy sensors which turn on the light when a person has entered the area; photosensors that turn on lights at dusk and off at dawn; dimmers which can be set to lower lighting to reduce power use; and timers which turn lights on and off at preset times.
Step 3


  In many homes, some areas don't have enough light, while other areas have too much. Good lighting design uses different fixtures to deliver appropriate amounts of ambient, task and accent lighting to meet the needs of each space. Ambient light provides general light in the space, while task lighting illuminates a specific area, such as a countertop or desk. Use accent lighting sparingly to highlight artwork, bookshelves and decorative objects. Homes are often designed with excessive ambient lighting in hallways and living rooms, and not enough task lighting in kitchens.

In California, the building energy efficiency code has guidelines that must be followed for lighting different parts of the house. An architect, builder, licensed electrician or lighting professional can help you understand the code requirements. To find a Lighting Certified professional, go to For more information about energy-efficient residential lighting, including shopping tips and FAQs about the new lighting standards, visit the U.S. Department of Energy's website,

Read more tips on sustainable efficient lighting.

Learn more about the Green Label Rebate Program and find out how you can qualify for a $2,000 rebate to get a green label for your home today!

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Source: Build It Green

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