Note: The information in this section is a general guide only and does not guarantee power savings in all cases.
Lighting has a bigger impact on our lives than most realise. Lighting – either natural or artificial – can affect our mood, eyesight, ability to concentrate and many other things. When it comes to electrical lighting, the lighting habits and products we use impact our wallets, too. This guide will look at how lighting can be better managed at home, the workplace and anywhere else.
In the following sections you'll learn things like:
- The types of bulbs that will save you money.
- Being responsible with lighting.
- Where to get more help with lighting in your home.
Lighting the way to power savings
Our lights are a critical part of running the household or workplace, especially at night and early morning. It’s rare that we have only one light on at a given time. The combination of many lights left on for extended periods can draw a fair bit of power. Here are some ideas for reducing power usage via lighting.
Unless you have a reasonably new house, any home with original lighting is likely to have less-efficient bulbs. Today, lighting is available in energy efficient LED (Light-emitting diode) bulbs.
LEDs last longer
These LED bulbs last much longer than older incandescent light bulbs, draw less power and are much friendlier to the environment (incandescent and fluorescent contain hazardous chemicals).
Different lights for different needs
LED bulbs come in all different shapes and sizes, appropriate for living areas, bathrooms, bedrooms and outdoors. Make sure you have a close look at the fixtures in your home so you purchase the right LED lights. Some LED lights are ‘dimmable’, giving you control over how much light is being put out to save on usage.
LEDs cost a bit more, but save you in the long-term
You will need to spend a bit more on an LED bulb vs a traditional incandescent one, but the savings over the longer lifetime and greatly improved efficiency (up to 85% better according to Energywise), make it worthwhile.
Think about LEDs at the office
Fluorescent lighting, often found in office spaces, can be replaced with LED tubes which again are much more efficient and better for the environment. Always have these replaced by your electrician.
Use the lights you need
Just because we have lights all through our homes, doesn’t mean they all need to be on all the time. Try using only the light needed for certain situations to save power.
Less light is often better
Is the entire household sitting in the living room watching TV? Then that’s the only area that needs any lighting. Don’t feel the need to switch every light on either – it may even be more pleasant watching TV with subtle dim lighting. Many rooms have multiple lights that are wired in sections. Think about what you really need in a space to maintain comfortable lighting.
During the day time we can usually rely on daylight to illuminate our indoor spaces. Often our workplaces have lights left on all day. If it’s safe and allowed, talk to your team about trying to reduce lighting use on sunny, bright days.
Get switched-on about switching off
We know how frustrating it can be to the more ‘light-responsible’ of us switching off lights after the family, friends or workmates. With some thought, everyone can be part of building a ‘lights off’ culture.
Get the kids involved
If you’re a parent, start to include the kids in the evening ritual of turning lights out in the home. After they’ve brushed their teeth and are ready for bed, go around and have them switch each light off, especially in the spaces they’ve used. Make a game out of it; once kids do it on their own for a week, maybe a little reward is in order!
Call out the workmates
Workplaces often have walls of shame, swear jars and other fun light-hearted rituals to keep the workplace environment and culture the best it can be. Think about how your team can start calling out bad light behaviour (such as leaving lights on in meeting rooms once finished) in a fun way. The swear jar model is quite good if everyone agrees to it – each time a light’s left on and called out, put a dollar in the lights on jar!
Make lights off a classroom ritual
As we talk about in Save power at school, having a list up on the wall for students and teachers to check off should include switching lights off at outside times and at the end of the school day.
Fittings & Wiring
Efficient lighting needs to be paired with safe, good condition fittings and wiring.
Make sure you get the assistance of an electrician who’s trained to upgrade fittings and rewire where needed. If your new LEDs are downlights to be recessed in the ceiling, it’s highly recommended to have entire fittings changed out. Check the light packaging to make sure your LED downlight is the kind that can be insulated over. Otherwise, you’ll still need a safety gap between fitting and insulation.
Generally, it’s a good idea to get an electrician to check the wiring and light fittings anyway. If they are old, replace with a newer, safer solution. If your home’s lighting (or other appliances) are putting heavy load on old wiring, this can lead to blown fuses and potentially even fires.
Designing lighting for energy efficiency
Building or doing major renovation? Spend some time planning out the lighting needed for each room.
Natural light options
Consider skylights and natural light redirection solutions in spaces like kitchen, dining and bathrooms. Think about the aspect of the home and investigate the lightest angles throughout the day. Make sure windows are large enough to let in a good amount of daylight.
Modern LED lights
As we’ve talked about already, LED lights are more efficient and should be opted for throughout the new home. Your local home or lighting store will have a broad range of lights like standard bulb, tubes, outdoor, candles and spotlights. LED lights can often be put on timers too, which is a good backstop for forgetful members of the household!
Map out the lighting you need with a professional
Look at the plans of the build or renovation and with the help of designer, architect and electrician, work out what lighting is needed to best light the space. They may be able to help you determine the lighting solution that will be comfortable, efficient and look good.
Solar lighting as a back upIf you’ve decided that solar energy makes sense for your home, why not incorporate some lighting options that run on solar alone. For basic lighting needs such as a walkway or drive, you can even install lighting that has the solar panel/cell mounted to it. For something more sophisticated, you can connect traditional lights to a solar battery storing energy collected during the day. Otherwise, you can simply run all your lights off a solar battery that switches to the grid once used. Learn more about solar power in our dedicated guide.
Top 5 lighting tips for saving electricity:
Make use of natural daylight whenever possible.
Switch to LEDs.
Make switching off lights part of your household’s routine.
Have your wiring checked and upgraded if necessary.
Spend more now on efficient lighting & fittings, enjoy savings long-term.