Consumers in the market for energy savings may want to consider a lighting upgrade. Artificial illumination accounts for roughly 13 percent of energy consumption in the home, and an average 35 percent in commercial buildings.
Traditional artificial illumination (especially in commercial settings) emits large amounts of heat that, while helpful on chilly days, can interfere significantly with cooling efforts on warm days. Energy efficient illumination, on the other hand, can lower the cooling load, which in turn contributes to the sustainability of the HVAC system as well.
Consumers are encouraged to look for the Energy Star logo when performing a lighting upgrade. Energy Star is an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program that independently evaluates and endorses energy efficient products.
Governmental agencies report that if every home in the nation would replace a single traditional light bulb with an Energy Star compact fluorescent bulb (CFL), the country could save more than $600 in utility costs annually, lower greenhouse emissions comparable to 800,000 cars and illuminate more than 3 million houses for an entire year. But why stop there? If a single energy efficient bulb in every home can have such an enormous impact, consumers can take energy savings even further by replacing several or all the bulbs in the home or office with more environmentally friendly versions for the most energy efficient lighting upgrade. Consumers who are interested to learn how much they can save in utility costs by switching from traditional incandescent to CFL bulbs can visit Energy Star online for a cost savings calculator.
A lighting upgrade can, but doesn’t need to, include a switch to Energy Star fixtures. The cost savings amount is the same, whether the consumer chooses to use CFL bulbs in traditional fixtures or purchase new Energy Star rated fixtures. Energy Star fixtures require only one fourth of the energy used by traditional fixtures and are sold with a CFL included. Energy Star bulbs have a life span of approximately 8,000 hours, versus 1,200 hours for an incandescent bulb.
Modern, energy efficient illumination fixtures provide quality illumination without compromising on aesthetics. Anyone who has experienced the harsh brightness of traditional fluorescent lighting may be surprised to learn that energy efficient fluorescent fixtures and bulbs are now described as producing a “warm glow.” The new fluorescent design for residential or office applications no longer looks or feels industrial, but can create ambience and mood while maintaining functionality and energy efficiency.
There is no shortage of fixture types available for the style-conscious consumer. Options include ceiling fixtures, pendulums, wall sconces, floor lamps, vanity bars, wall mounted fixtures, table lamps, pendants, and even chandeliers and outdoor posts. Some manufacturers of fixtures whose select products have earned the Energy Star seal of approval include:
• American Fluorescent
• Good Earth
• Sea Gull
• and Westinghouse
A lighting upgrade can also include the installation of occupancy sensors that detect motion when someone is present in the room. Whenever a room is unoccupied, the occupancy sensor turns off unnecessary lighting, further reducing electricity consumption. Some energy efficient illumination fixtures are also dimmable, allowing for the adjustment of brightness and, subsequently, the energy required to power the lamp.