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Lighting Efficiency

Light Only the Space You Use

Effective task lighting can reduce energy costs

Are you lighting your whole kitchen, home office or family room every time you sit down to read or work on the computer? If so, you’re wasting energy.

If you’re just occupying a small portion of a room, light up your spot with task lighting. That allows you to reduce lighting costs while adding character and ambience to a room.

Both track lights and recessed lights offer a streamlined look that can make a room feel bigger, add more light or highlight certain areas of a room.

Track lighting and recessed lighting were once restricted to incandescent and halogen bulbs—which use a lot of energy and produce heat along with light, making a room hotter in the summer. Today, you have energy-efficient options in the form of compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs).

You can buy track lighting fixtures designed especially for CFLs and CFL replacements for existing track lighting systems. For recessed lighting, choose a CFL that’s marked especially for recessed lighting, with a reflector to push light out into the room.

Follow these tips for effective task lighting:

• For a reading or desk area, place the light directly above where you sit so your head and shoulders won’t block the light.

• Task lighting can increase visibility and safety above kitchen counters. Place lighting directly above kitchen islands, but center lights over the edge of countertops with cabinets.

•  When creating a row of lights, place the first light about 3 feet from the wall to avoid making the corners look dark.

• Recessed lighting will typically light an area of floor space equal to the height of the ceiling. To brighten the room, space the bulbs so the area of each halo of light overlaps. A spacing of 6 to 8 feet typically distributes the light evenly.

• Give yourself some lighting options by having your electrician wire different sets of lights to multiple switches so you can turn only one set on for specific tasks, or turn them all on to illuminate the entire room.