• Choosing Energy Efficient Lighting for the Home

    Posted on April 19, 2014 by in Energy Efficiency & Conservation, Green your home
    Possibly the Best All Around Light-Bulb on the Market

    Possibly the Best All Around Light-Bulb on the Market

    Take a look at any how-to-sell-your home manual and I can guarantee you somewhere on the list it’s going to say “turn on every light” for showings. Nowhere is this more important than the Pacific NW on a rainy day. Homes look better when there is a lot of light and this is true regardless of whether it’s on the market or not.

    When I listed my first BuiltGreen™ home for sale, it was under a relocation program and the head of the program came out to inspect the house. The first thing she wanted me to do was replace all the CFL bulbs and replaced with incandescent light bulbs. Granted, this was a few years ago before most people even knew what a CFL bulb was and they did take a while to “heat” up and emit the amount of light they were supposed and real estate brokers hated them. I was able to plead with the program director to leave the light-bulbs provided I put up a sign that the CFL bulbs were part of the energy efficiency of the home.

    We have come a long way and consumers have made it clear that they will buy energy-efficient bulbs provided they work as well as incandescent’s do.

    It wasn’t long after learning about the benefits of the CFL’s before I upgraded every bulb in my home. I had read the energy savings were going to pay for the bulbs within just a few years and so why not make the investment now. However, I did break one in my daughter’s bathroom and thoughts of mercury poisoning raced through my mind and I wondered if all those CFL nay-sayers were right about the environmental toxins the bulbs were responsible for.

    But the real aggravation was that these bulbs started to burn out. They were supposed to last for years, they were supposed to pay for themselves after a few years. Certainly if they don’t last long enough to pay for themselves this was a losing proposition. Now when I add a new bulb to replace the old bulb it’s very apparent the light is different, so I do need to update again, and now the topic is more confusing than every before.

    I want to have a lot of natural looking light and I want to be as energy-efficient as possible. I also want light bulbs or light sources that will last a long time. So after careful consideration here’s my solution to my lighting issues.

    Solar Tubes

    In my opinion; solar tubes are a miracle product. I’ve seen them in a number of homes both at night and in strong sunlight. The amount of light they emit is remarkable. They provide natural light and even amplify moonlight just enough that you can get by without a light say for a midnight bathroom trip.   While I do believe there is a way to “shut them off” I am only going to add these to bathrooms, hallways and my home office as these rooms never require total darkness. The solar tubes are obviously extremely energy-efficient and they will last a long time. The downside is that the solar tubes should be installed by a professional installer and so the upfront cost is high. They also are not very attractive from the exterior view so you may want to limit them to only the backside of your home. You should also check with any home owner’s association to make sure they are allowed before installing them as well. Be mindful that Solar Tubes are not the same as skylights which I do not recommend as they are not energy-efficient.

    See more about Solar Tubes Here

    The Cree Bulb

    If you’re just looking to replace your modest light-bulbs with a the best overall solutions, most sites are placing the Cree Bulb at the top of the list. A Google search of “best light bulb” will take you to most of those sites. I’d just like to highlight here that the bulb seems to retail for about $13 and the reviews on Amazon are all consistent with the consumer sites. The quick facts on this bulb is that it uses 84% less energy compared to a standard incandescent bulb (9.5 watts compared to 65 watts), it’s dim-able and works in the same standard bulb outlets.

    I currently have a dining room chandelier on a dimmable switch that requires 5 bulbs. This is the one area of my home I didn’t put CFL’s in. If I exchange these bulbs today, the cost for the Cree bulbs will run me $57.99 for a six-pack of bulbs. If I suppose I use the lights for an average of 1 hour a day and supposing that the cost to run each bulb is .75 cents per hour as suggested by the Energy Collective and there are 5 bulbs in this lighting fixture, that’s $3.75 per day or $1,370 per year. By contrast if we are saving 84% of the energy cost, we can now lower the cost to illuminate the dining room to just about $220 per year. Suddenly $60 for light bulbs doesn’t sound so bad.

    Home Automation

    Now we are in the sexy department of home lighting. If you have managed to hang with me this far in my blog post about light bulbs, let me spice it up for you and talk about something cool. While I will personally wait to install light bulbs that connect to a wireless router I do strongly recommend learning as much about home automation as you can. After all the best way to save energy on light-bulbs is turn them off when you don’t need them. And home automation is one of these Green areas that’s multi-beneficial. It’s not just good for the environment, it’s good for home security and the safety of your family and guests.

    I’m waiting on wireless light bulbs and home automation to become a little more seamless rather than expanding the ports on my router to a ridiculous level. In the meantime, I added a simple motion sensor switch-plate to my walk-in pantry and dark hallways; because these lights were constantly being left on. I added timers to the kid’s shower fan and combo light fixture to ensure proper ventilation as well as energy savings.

    The Nest Protect also has a motion sensor to light hallways which is a handy feature in a smoke and carbon detector. I particular like that it’s a three in one device so I have less clutter on my ceilings.

    A great way to green your home is to take time to identify areas in your home that would benefit from a motion sensor, timer or programmable switch.

    Remove Recessed and Other Inefficient Lightingphoto

    I don’t know why but Builders seem to love recessed lighting (especially in the kitchens) and some of the most beautiful homes I’ve seen look like a recessed bomb went off and they all impaled themselves in the ceiling. I have 10 of these bad boys in my kitchen and it’s regardless of all these bulbs, it’s never bright enough.

    As a light-source they don’t radiate light very well. Ask any home inspector how often they are not installed correctly leading to a fire hazard. And when used with heat emitting incandescent lights and they create a number of mini chimney’s in your home and can literally suck a lot of heated or cooled air right out of the house.

    Someday I’ll replace a few of these with some sleek LED fixtures like these gorgeous lights featured on Houzz that direct the light to your working area, perfect for any kitchen.

     

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