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Lighting design

Design your home's lighting for maximum energy efficiency by making the most of natural daylight, using energy efficient bulbs, and thinking about how you use lighting technology.

Maximise natural sunlight

Light-coloured walls and surfaces help you maximise natural light in your home by providing a reflective surface for it to bounce back off. Skylights and solar tube-type fittings increase natural light without glare - great for rooms in the house that don't get much natural light, but make sure you choose models that won't compromise your house's thermal envelope.

Recessed lighting

Recessed downlights are good for task lighting but because of their narrow beam you need a large number of them to provide even lighting throughout the space, resulting in high energy consumption. If you have already got downlights in your ceiling and your house is insulated, you should have a gap in between the light and the insulation for safety reasons. But this gap means the heat from your room escapes through the holes which isn't ideal.
In May 2012 new regulations came into effect for household recessed downlight fittings. As a result of these changes, all new recessed household downlight fittings (except for replacements) have to be able to be insulated right up to or over the top of without any undue overheating risk. Find out more about insulation and downlights.

Pendant lighting

Pendant lights (that hang down from the ceiling) are very versatile, come in a range of designs to suit ambient or task lighting, and won't compromise your ceiling insulation. The ‘flood' effect of their wide beam means pendant lights light large spaces easily, so you won't need many.

Outdoor lighting

Outdoor or security lighting on manual switches often gets left on for long periods. Use sensor-controlled lights for safety and energy savings. Where outside lights are used a lot, consider long life energy efficient options, like LEDs, to conserve energy and reduce the need to climb ladders to replace failed lamps.

Consider dimmers

Dimming your lights can help you save on your electricity bill and increase the life of your bulbs. If you dim a bulb by 50%, you can make 50% energy savings. If you have your lights on separate switches too, you can choose to dim only selected lights - ideal for setting the mood you want or providing just the light you need for a specific task. Standard CFLs don't work on dimmer circuits, but there is a range of new generation halogen bulbs and dimmable CFL options that do.


Use non-recessed spotlights to highlight room features or works of art, as well as larger areas like kitchen surfaces. Also great for wall washing, but don't locate the fitting more than a metre away from the lit object or surface.
  • Try efficient IRC reflector lamps for spotlighting.
  • For existing fittings, replace standard halogen spotlights (MR16) with high efficiency IRC halogen spotlights.

Cupboards and pantry lighting

In areas like cupboards, where lighting is switched on for only a few seconds, use energy efficient halogen or incandescent light sources which don't require warm-up time. Consider using a timer controlled switch which turns the light off after a minute or so.