There are plentiful ways to light up your house, office or any other interior place. Lighting can be simple or designer but should be a part of a design plan. Efficient lighting also supports the goal of energy efficiency, reducing the electricity bill and saving money. However, one should not expect to simply install various energy-efficient fixtures and save bundles in energy costs; the biggest energy savings come as part of an effort to improve the performance of the entire house, including increasing insulation, installing high performance and sizeable windows, sealing air leaks, sealing supply and return ductwork (in case of ducting), and installing a high efficiency air-conditioner and furnace.
Benefits will definitely increase when all these improvements are considered together during the planning and design stage or later in the existing homes. For instance, it is a common known fact that more efficient lighting always reduces the air-conditioning load. If you are focusing on lighting, consider replacing old appliances with energyefficient ones: The most efficient appliances in the market are labelled with Energy Star showcasing one to Five-Star ratings (higher the star, higher is their energy efficiency).
While preparing the lighting strategy, you choose depends on the level of remodelling you are doing, following few basic key design principles will definitely help:
1. Focus your effort on rooms used most
Improving the lighting in the rooms/areas which are utilised maximum throughout the day like in maximum cases bedrooms, kitchen etc. will definitely make a lot of difference. Every household has different activities happening depends upon many factors. For instance, a two-bedroom house with only two members and both are working will utilise the bedrooms and kitchen mainly for the five or six working days of a week, that too after their working hours. In the same way a five-bedroom house with seven members with two housewives and two kids will utilise the lobby or drawing room area on a regular basis throughout the day. So, while developing the lighting strategy, it is important to focus on the rooms or areas which are probable to utilise more depends on the activities. Refer image 1 for a photograph showing the regular use kids play or common area in a house; beautifully lit throughout with minimum utilisation of artificial lights.
2. Replace existing Light Fixtures
Most existing homes have incandescent or hot-intensity fixtures. Replace them with dedicated, hard-wired fluorescents or LED for betterment. If you use screw-ins, they may be switched back to incandescent when the bulb burns out, losing the energy efficiency benefits. Generally hard-wired fixtures and LEDs have better aesthetics and light quality, too. As shown in image 2, one can see the difference in colours of a same room just by replacing the light fixtures.
3. Layer lighting for maximum impact
To produce dramatic effects, design ambient, task and accent lighting in any area, ambient lighting provides general room illumination and may also reduce the need for additional portable lighting. Task lighting sometimes helps home owners to see better where they need it. For instance, cove lighting under upper cabinets in the kitchen to help lighting the kitchen during preparation of meals. Accent lighting adds sparkle by focusing on an architectural detail such as a fireplace or on photos or artwork or something else. See image 3 for a picture showcasing the only desired light in the activity area of a kitchen during preparation of meals.
4. Consider the room’s function and its form
No matter where you start, consider which activities are most important for your room. Perhaps the easiest place to begin in any house is the kitchen. As stated above, undercabinet lighting provides task lighting. When there is space above kitchen cabinets, between cabinet and ceiling, it’s easy to mount inexpensive strip lights to provide excellent, glarefree light for the entire kitchen. A recessed downlight over a kitchen area will accent the area, and at the same time help the user to see better when performing kitchen tasks and provide ambient light.
For the family room or lobby area, one can use a combination of ambient, track and portable lighting. In the washroom, both appearance and safety are important. At the appearance, light from either side of the looking mirror, as well as from the top, should not be there to avoid shadows inside the washroom.
5. Use concealed light sources
By using concealed light sources, one can notice the illuminated floors, walls and ceiling of the room instead of the direct glare of light bulbs. Concealed light sources help eliminate direct glare from lamps. Concealed lights can be utilised in the common areas or bedrooms also for better light efficiency. Refer image 4 for a picture showing well illuminated common room with the help of concealed light sources.
6. Use fluorescents or LED lights
According to a research, fluorescents use 25 per cent to 35 per cent of the energy used by incandescent to give the same light output and last up to 10,000 hours, compared with 1,000 for the typical incandescent bulb. Using a combination of fluorescents and incandescent lamps is likely to be less efficient than using all fluorescents or LEDs.
Most people associate fluorescents with the harsh, bluish lighting typically found in garages and basements. But for a nice, crisp light quality, as good as incandescent, choose fluorescents with a colour temperature of 3,000-degree Kelvin.
7. Limit the number of different light sources
Always try to avoid multiple types of lights in the house which will directly affect the energy utilisation in the house. For linear fluorescents or LED, use two different ones (3-foot or 4-foot length) and for CFLs use 15, 26 and 32 watts. This makes it easier for home owners to replace the lamps without much difficulty.
8. Consider control
Always consider the controls such as photo sensors, occupancy sensors, dimmers and remote controls which may help to reduce energy by ensuring that lights are only used when needed. Nowadays, automatic sensors are widely utilised to save energy but is costly than the other systems. One can choose wisely after considering short-term and longterm effects and benefits. Refer image 5 which showcasing the benefits of motion sensor lighting in the home by lighten up during activity time only. By applying these few key basic design principles during planning a house and also in the existing homes, the house owner can reap the benefits of effective lighting as well as energy efficiency by reducing the electricity bill and saving money in short- or long-term.