No matter how great a room looks during the day, the right lighting makes all the difference at night. Effective lighting can even bring the not-so-favorite areas of your home to life, whether it’s indoors or out. The right type of lighting can make a difference not only in mood and atmosphere, but in efficiency and cost as well. The U.S. Department of Energy offers the following guide to lighting options. Consider these options before remodeling an interior room or updating an outdoor area:
• Incandescent bulbs – The most common type of home lighting, incandescent bulbs light instantly, provide good light and color rendition, and may be dimmed as desired. Although they are the least expensive to buy, their short life and low efficacy compared to other lights may make them more expensive in the long run.
• Fluorescents – These bulbs use 25% to 35% of the energy used by incandescents and last about ten times longer. Improvements in technology have eliminated the flicker and noise associated with old fluorescents, delivering color temperature and color rendition comparable to incandescents. This lighting is great for kitchens and workrooms.
• Compact fluorescent lights (CFL) – These curly looking bulbs produce the same light as incandescents at just 20% of the power. They are a great choice for your lamps in most living areas.
• Halogen lights – Burning brighter and hotter than incandescent bulbs, halogen lights produce brilliant white light and have a longer service life. But they are more expensive and their hotter temperature could be hazardous in certain areas.
• High intensity discharge lights – These provide the highest efficacy and longest service life of any lighting type, and can save 75% to 90% of lighting energy when they replace incandescent bulbs. Because they take a few minutes to produce light when first turned on, they are best for areas where they stay on for hours at a time.
• Outdoor solar lighting – These lights are easy to install, are virtually maintenance free, and provide totally free electricity. Using solar cells, they convert sunlight into electricity, which is stored for use at night.
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