Expert Tips for Saving Energy with Lighting

Lighting accounts for 5-10 percent of total energy use in the
average American home and costs $50 to $150 per year in electricity.
That’s not a huge amount, but it’s enough to justify doing something
about—especially when you consider the advantages of energy-efficient

These tips from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy will help!

Make use of natural light

Nothing’s nicer than natural light, and in terms of energy use, nothing’s more efficient. A single skylight or properly positioned window can provide as much light as dozens of light bulbs during the daylight hours. To benefit more from natural lighting you may need to rearrange the furniture in your rooms—putting your favorite reading chair over by the south window, for example. Or you may want to go to more effort and install one or more skylights. To help get that light deeper into the room, you can paint your walls a light color and use reflective louvers or Venetian blinds.

Reduce background light levels and rely more on task lighting
You can save a lot of energy by concentrating light just where it’s needed and reducing background or ambient light levels. This strategy—called task lighting—is widely used in office buildings, but it makes just as much sense at home. Install track of recessed lights to illuminate your desk or the kitchen table where you do the crossword puzzle, and keep the ceiling lights off.

Switch to compact fluorescent lamps

Most of the lighting currently provided by incandescent lights can be provided just as well with compact fluorescent lamps. Replacing your incandescent lamps with compact fluorescents is the best way to save lighting energy in the average home.

When design permits, use tube fluorescent lighting

The best tube fluorescent lamps with new electronic ballasts are a far cry from what most of us think of as fluorescent lighting. They now make sense in places other than your garage or basement workshop. In fact, they can provide very satisfactory (and energy-efficient) recessed lighting around the perimeter of a living room, or overhead lighting in kitchens and bathrooms.

Use incandescent lights wisely

Higher-wattage incandescent light bulbs are more efficient than lower-wattage bulbs. It takes two 60-watt bulbs or four 40-watt bulbs to provide as much light as a single 100-watt bulb. In a fixture that holds several bulbs, you’ll save by using a single higher-wattage bulb instead of several smaller bulbs. (Be sure to follow precautions on the fixture about maximum wattage, though.)

Quick suggestions

  • Turn lights off when you leave the room, or install occupancy sensors.
  • Install energy-saving floodlights outdoors.
  • Use solar-powered accent lights outdoors.
  • Buying energy-efficient lighting equipment.

    Adapted from Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings, by Alex Wilson, Jennifer Thorne, and John Morrill. Copyright (c) 1999 by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Reprinted by permission of Chelsea Green.
    Adapted from Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings, by Alex Wilson, Jennifer Thorne, and John Morrill.


katarzyna phillips

one thing you haven't mentioned at all is the use of candles! not only are they a welcome source of some heat in the winter, they can provide enough light needed, without turning on the main light. and use energy efficient lightbulbs. i don't see the need for these light fittings that need several bulbs. get one that has a powerful bulb in it and just use that!

Alicia N.
Alicia N6 years ago

thank U

Aditya n.
Aditya n6 years ago


Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton6 years ago


Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Harshiita Sharma
Harshita Sharma6 years ago


Steve M.
Steve M.6 years ago

I am a business man but an expert on energy saving lighting. I am in the health club business. Does this look realistic. I'm the skeptical type.

Tim Cheung
Tim C7 years ago


go G.
C. G8 years ago


abby l.
abby l8 years ago

Most of us know all this ~ now all we need is to DO iT.