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Making Your Lighting Design More Energy-Efficient

By making your lighting design energy-efficient, you are able to improve both the efficiency and the quality of your lighting design. With lighting making up 11% of the average UK household electricity consumption, focusing on energy efficiency can also help you save money. You can also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by doing this, for example switching to LED lights means you could reduce emissions by up to 40kg a year. Making the switch, therefore, saves you money and is better for the environment.

This can all be done without compromising on the quality of light within your home.

How to make your interior lighting design more energy-efficient

Maximise the use of daylighting

If your room gets a lot of natural daylight, it’s important to maximise its effect. This will reduce the need for using your lights during the day. Utilise blinds and curtain hooks to increase the amount of light entering the room. Using lightly coloured paints on your walls will also reflect the light and these are all ways of doing this.

Think quality over quantity

Remember, more light isn’t necessarily better. If vision is a problem, adding more light could make seeing even harder, and increase energy usage too. Instead, focus on the quality of the products used, rather than increasing the amount of light. Often, better-quality products are more efficient and cost-effective in the long term.

Install task lights where needed

Task lights are a form of direct lighting that is then used for specific tasks. By installing task lights, you can reduce the amount of ambient light elsewhere. This reduces the amount of energy you will use.

Install LED lights where possible

LED light bulbs often use less energy than conventional lights and last up to 50,000 hours. This is equivalent to having them turned on for five consecutive years. LED lights consume around 80% less energy than incandescent light bulbs and emit practically no heat, making them much more energy efficient.

You can do this in a number of different ways:

  • If fixtures are not LED compatible, you can install new LED light fixtures, especially for all fixtures that are ceiling or wall-mounted. This is especially important if they will be on for more than 2 hours per day, such as within a living room or kitchen.
  • When installing fixtures, consider installing ENERGY STAR-rated LED fixtures as these are the most energy efficient.
  • Use LED bulbs in all portable lighting fixtures that are compatible

Use energy-efficient lighting components, controls and systems

These include timers, occupancy sensors, connected home apps/lighting control systems and dimmers. 

Timers and occupancy sensors will automatically turn lights on and off depending on certain criteria. Timers cause the lights to switch off, either after a certain period of time or at certain times. These are generally used for external lighting but it is recommended we all turn our lights off after 11 pm to reduce light pollution. Meanwhile, occupancy sensors will automatically turn lights on when they detect movement and turn them off when there has been a lack of movement after a set period of time. These sensors are often placed at an entrance to a room to detect when someone enters.

Dimmers are devices that are used to control the brightness of a light fixture. They alter the voltage waveform applied to a bulb, meaning you can alter the intensity of the light output and thus reduce the amount of energy used.

Connected home apps and lighting control systems allow you to adjust the lighting in your home from your phone. This means if you leave the house, you can turn any lights you left on, off from your phone.

Match the amount and quality of light to the performed function

By doing this, you’ll never have too many lights on at any one point, and the function of the room will remain intact.

Making your outdoor lighting design more energy efficient:

  • Consider LED flood lights with combined photosensors and motion sensors as security lighting. These options are more energy efficient, and will only be on and used when needed!
  • Remember that security and utility lighting does not need to be overly bright in order to be effective. Sometimes, it is just a case of being placed in the right place, to maximise its effect.
  • Only use lighting that has a specific task and location. If the light is going to be there for the sake of it, don’t use it!
  • Similar to interior lighting, use timers and other controls to turn any decorative lighting on and off as needed.
  • On outdoor light fixtures, use reflectors, deflectors and covers to make more efficient use of light sources and reduce light pollution.

What else can be done to improve the energy efficiency of your lighting design?

It’s important to be aware of how many lights you have on at any one time. Do you really need all those lights turned on, or would just one suffice? Linked to this, consider using transparent shades or fittings. This will reduce the likelihood of a dark shade absorbing some of the light the bulb emits, which means more light will be used to light the room. You can also make sure you regularly clean these shades and fittings, to increase their impact of the light.

When creating your lighting design, arrange the light switches to make them easy to turn off. For main lights, you could place the switches at the door to make them easily accessible when entering and leaving a room.

Finally, when leaving a room make sure you turn all of the lights off. This is one of the easiest ways to reduce energy consumption and save a little money (up to £20 a year).

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