It’s 2013, and if you’re still spending a ton on your energy bill, you should know that it doesn’t have to be that way. Right now, about 20% of the energy we consume goes to lighting. But, with a few energy-efficient changes, we can see that number (and the numbers on our monthly bills) dwindle. This post is the first in a series on how to make the lighting in your home or business more energy-efficient.
Everyone’s got to eat, and for many of us, the kitchen is the very heart of the home. The kitchen also requires excellent lighting for cooking and cleaning up. So, I figure it will be a good place to start an energy-efficient lighting makeover.
There are many different ways to upgrade the lights in your kitchen, some are quick and easy, and others are more extensive.
- Eliminate the incandescents. Nothing sucks energy quite like and incandescent light bulb. It wastes about 90% of the energy it uses, giving it off as heat (incidentally making your kitchen feel more like a sweat lodge than it should). If you replace every light bulb with a CFL (compact fluorescent), whether it’s a household lamp, a reflector lamp, or even a chandelier light bulb, you’ll start seeing energy savings right away!
- Add a dimmer. Putting your overhead lights, pendant lights, and even your under cabinet lights on dimmers will help you save even more energy. A light bulb doesn’t need to use as much energy when dimmed to a lower level. Also, dimming will increase the life of your light bulb, which means you won’t have to pay for (or use up) so many. Just make sure that if you’re using your dimmers on CFLs, the dimmer and the light bulb are compatible.
- Swap your light bulbs for LEDs. As of now, LED light bulbs are still considerably pricier than their CFL and incandescent equivalents, so it might take some guts to switch out every single light bulb. You can always start with a few lights at a time, but if you choose to commit to all of them, the reward is greater than the risk. These light bulbs will pay for themselves over and over in energy savings, using fewer watts of electricity to product the same number of lumens. Plus, they last much longer than other light bulbs.
- Add a motion or occupancy sensor to high traffic areas. Always have trouble remembering to turn off the lights? Opting for motion-sensing lights, or lights on occupancy sensors in the kitchen can solve that problem in a second. While they might not be ideal for dining areas or places where you sit still for long periods of time, they’re perfect for under cabinet lights or in places where you’re on the go. Plus, they’ll make it much easier to turn on the lights when your fingers are covered with flour or eggs or chicken residue.
- Change out your older under cabinet lights for fluorescent fixtures. These are an affordable, efficient alternative to standard filament light fixtures, and they give you a ton of light for the amount of energy they use.
- You might be ready to take the plunge and go for the more expensive LEDs, instead of changing to fluorescent under cabinet light fixtures. Just like LED light bulbs, they use less energy to produce the same amount of light, and last much longer. To save even more energy, be sure to choose an LED fixture that’s dimmable.
- Opt for LED retrofits in your kitchen’s recessed cans. This is an energy-saving solution with fairly little hassle involved, but it’s one of the most powerful ways to make your kitchen lighting more energy-efficient. LED retrofits fit right into your pre-existing recessed cans, and will last you from 12-17 years! Where an incandescent light would use 40w of electricity, the retrofit would only use 9w. These fixtures are dimmable, and they also generate much less heat, which will help you save on your energy bills.
When in doubt, you should look for lighting products with the Energy Star logo, and to ensure you’re buying quality lights, look for the lighting facts label on your product’s packaging, or look it up here.
Are you making any energy-efficient changes to your kitchen lighting? Tell us about it in the comment section, or share photos on our Facebook wall!