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Your Home Environment Resource - University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Household Hints & HELP!


submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appeared in the February 9, 2003 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.

Are you using more light than you need? Lighting uses approximately 15 percent of our residential energy. The quantity and quality of light around us determine how well we see, work and play. Light affects our health, safety, morale, comfort and productivity. Lighting also affects our economy. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests several ways to reduce energy usage in our homes.

Indoor Lighting

* Turn off lights in any room not being used.

* Light-zone your home. Concentrate lighting in reading and working areas and where it’s needed for safety (stairwells, for example).

* To reduce overall lighting in non-working spaces, remove one bulb out of three in multiple light fixtures and replace it with a burned-out bulb for safety. Replace other bulbs throughout the house with bulbs of the next lower wattage.

* Consider installing solid-state dimmers or high-low switches when replacing light switches. They make it easy to reduce lighting intensity in a room.

* Use one large bulb instead of several small ones in areas where bright light is needed.

* Use compact fluorescent lights whenever you can. These new lights can fit into many incandescent lamp sockets and provide the same quality of light.

* Consider fluorescent lighting for the kitchen sink and counter-top areas.

* When purchasing new lamps, consider the advantages of those with three-way switches. They make it easy to keep lighting levels low when intense light is not necessary.

* Always turn three-way bulbs down to the lowest lighting level when watching television.

* Use low-wattage night-light bulbs.

* Keep all lamps and lighting fixtures clean.

Outdoor lighting

* Have decorative outdoor gas lamps turned off, unless they are essential for safety. Just eight gas lamps burning year round uses as much natural gas as it takes to heat an average-size home for a winter heating season.

* Use outdoor lights only when they are needed.

* Consider installing solar-powered outdoor pathway lamps of high-efficiency sodium lamps for outdoor security lighting.

You can save on lighting energy through decorating. Light colors for walls, rugs, draperies and upholstery reflect light and, therefore, reduce the amount of artificial light required.

Maintenance is vital to lighting efficiency. Clean fixtures, lamps (bulbs) and lenses every six to 24 months by wiping off the dust. Never clean an incandescent bulb while it is turned on. Consider group relamping. Common lamps, especially incandescent and fluorescent lamps, lose 20 to 30 percent of their light output over their service life.

To cut energy consumption from lighting in your home check the lighting systems in your home. Increase the efficiency of lamps, ballasts and fixtures. Provide task lighting. Use day lighting where possible and practical.

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