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.
Maximise natural sunlight
Light-coloured walls and surfaces help maximise natural light by providing a reflective surface. Skylights and solar tube type fittings increase natural light without glare - great for rooms in houses that don't get a lot of natural light.
Recessed downlights are good for task lighting but - because of their narrow beam - you need a large number to provide even light, resulting in high energy consumption.
If you already have downlights and your house is insulated, ensure there is a gap between lights and insulation for safety reasons.
Surface mounted and pendant ceiling lighting
Surface mounted ceiling and 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 they light large spaces easily, so you won't need many.
Outdoor or security lights on manual switches are often left on for long periods. Use sensor-controlled lights for safety and energy savings. Where outside lights are used frequently, consider options like LEDs to conserve energy and reduce the need to climb ladders and replace failed lamps.
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 a mood or providing just the right light for a specific task. Standard CFLs don't work on dimmer circuits, but there is a range of new generation halogen and dimmable CFL options.
Use non-recessed spotlights to highlight room features or works of art, as well as larger areas like kitchen surfaces. They’re 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.