The most obvious way to save money on lighting is to switch lights off when they’re not needed. This may be easier said than done if you light a large, open-plan space with a single light fitting, but if you install multiple light fittings and multiple switches instead, you can light different areas of the space independently. Continuing this theme, if you install outdoor lighting, such as security lighting, make sure it has a timer or an infrared motion sensor, or both, so that it only comes on when needed.
Daylight is frequently wasted in the modern home, but try to use natural light rather than artificial light wherever you can. Installing a skylight in your kitchen or laundry room, for example, can significantly reduce the cost of lighting the space, especially if it faces north or northeast. If you do need to light a space artificially, choose the type of bulbs and wattages (the amount of power required to operate them, measured in watts) to suit the purpose of the space.
Bear in mind that incandescent bulbs waste 90% of their energy as heat. They require 100 watts of energy to produce 1,600 units of luminous flux, or lumens, compared with 77 watts for halogen incandescent bulbs, 23 watts for compact fluorescent bulbs and just 20 watts for light emitting diodes. Excessively bright lighting wastes power, creates glare and, if installed outdoors, can create light pollution for your neighbours. If you have a light in your porch that you want to leave on all night, you may be surprised to learn that a 9-watt compact fluorescent lamp will do the job quite adequately.
Installing energy efficient light bulbs is all very well, but make sure that you keep bulbs and lampshades clean. Dirt and grime can reduce the efficiency of your lighting by up to 50%. Dust light bulbs regularly with a clean, moist microfibre cloth followed by a clean, dry microfibre cloth. Gently vacuum lampshades using an upholstery tool once a week and, if it’s possible to wet the lampshade, remove stains using a sponge that’s been moistened with washing-up liquid in warm water.
It’s also worth checking your electricity tariff from time to time. Comparison websites, such as SO Switch, allow you to compare tariffs from all the major electricity providers. You may find that you would save £100 or more a year on your electricity costs simply by switching from one provider to another.
Types of Lighting
Learn about the different types of lighting, namely ambient or background lighting, accent lighting and task lighting. If you need light to do a specific task, such as using a computer, reading or sewing, think about task lights with fluorescent, halogen or tungsten bulbs. Task lights, such as the Anglepoise lamp, provide ample light, focussed on the area you’re using, at a fraction of the cost of an overhead light. Compact fluorescent lamps operate at much lower temperatures than incandescent filament lamps so can be positioned close to the face without discomfort caused by heat.