Not many of us know that lighting gobbles up between 10 and 20% of our electricity bills. If you look at all the lights left burning inside and outside your home or office, the size and wattage and for how many hours they burn, you could get a pretty good idea of your home’s energy utilization on lighting each day.
Lighting is not just decorative or practical. It also serves important functions like safety. Well-lit spaces are essential to protect people from criminals and accidents.
Today, many of us live in condos and apartments and work in offices where there’s little or no natural light. People and commercial organizations have become increasingly conscious about designing their lighting solutions so that they are more efficient, cost-effective yet fulfill all the necessary requirements.
Traditional lighting using incandescent bulbs is now a technology that’s more than 100 years old. Nearly 90% of the energy utilized by these bulbs is just wasted and only 10% is converted into light. This means you’re paying out money for something you don’t even use.
What we need to do is find smarter lighting solutions that are functional, cost-effective and efficient.
Reduce Your Lighting Bills
- Turn Them Off! This is perhaps the simplest solution to the problem – turn the lights off when you don’t need them. However, studies show that constant on-off can shorten the bulb’s life – so you end up spending money on replacing burned-out bulbs while cutting your energy bills. Experts recommend that if you know you’re leaving the room for more than 15 minutes, then turn the lights out. Otherwise leave them on. Unplug appliances after you’re done using them. Another factor to note is that in summer, turning lights out keeps your room cooler, leading to a small savings in air-con costs.
- Clean Up! Dust and grime coating your bulbs and lampshades can prevent nearly 50% of the available light from reaching you. Regular dusting and wiping of bulbs and lampshades and washing the washable ones can go a long way in saving you dollars.
- Avoid multiple fittings: They look gorgeous and opulent, but they’re also big time power guzzlers. Some people believe that multiple fittings using lower wattage bulbs is economical, but that’s a myth. They’re also difficult to maintain and keep clean. If one bulb goes, the effect is lost, so you could end up constantly replacing burned-out bulbs. However, it’s a great idea to install multiple switches to cover lighting in large areas. That way you get to light only the areas you really want lit at that
- Motion Detectors, Dimmers and Lamps: Dimmers reduce energy utilization and also increase the life of your low-voltage bulbs. Ensure that your bulbs are suitable for use with dimmers. Lamps provide focused lighting for close tasks like sewing, reading, etc. They enhance the ambiance and provide enough light more cheaply than overhead lighting. Installing motion detectors and occupancy sensors can ensure that the lights are operated only when they’re required.
- Keep It Natural: Wherever possible maximize the use of natural light during the daytime. If you’re designing a new work-place or home, ensure that skylights are placed above the focus areas. In older homes, you could remove a few tiles or redesign the roofing to allow natural light to come in. Using solar power for lighting and heating can cut your energy bills drastically.
- Choose CFLs/LEDs: They consume far less energy than incandescents and last longer too. Though they’re more expensive than conventional bulbs, their price has been steadily falling recently, making them much more affordable. LEDs have captured the market today, and they can generate nearly 70-80% savings.
- Outdoor lighting: is used for aesthetics, security and utility. We need to remember that security/utility lights need not be over-bright. Using reflectors and deflectors, mirrored covers etc makes them more efficient. Flood-lights are a good option for parking areas. Solar power should be used as much as possible, along with motion-sensors, door-jamb switches and other automated controls.
- Choose points carefully: Position your lights over mirrors, ensure that wall-paints are in lighter shades. Every room has different lighting needs – ambient, reflected, diffuse, task/directional, accent, safety lighting etc.
Hidden leaks in your energy and lighting plan can be a source of wasteful expenditure. Smart lighting designs and plans can save you a significant amount on your energy bills. Vary your light-sources, use new technology, have a regular energy audit to identify and eliminate the energy vampires in your home or work-place.
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