8 Lighting Design Principles
Home Ideas Magazine - July 2015
There are so many ways to light up your house. Lighting can be simple or part of your design plan. Lighting can also support your goals of energy efficiency and saving money.
However, don't expect to simply install energy-efficient fixtures and save bundles in energy costs - the biggest energy savings come as part of an effort to improve the performance of the entire house, including increasing insulation, installing high-performance windows, sealing air leaks, sealing supply and return ductwork, and installing a high-efficiency furnace and air conditioner.
Benefits increase when all these improvements are considered together. For example, more efficient lighting reduces the air-conditioning load. Also, the Department of Energy groups appliances with lighting when looking at energy use. If you're focusing on lighting, consider replacing old appliances with energy-efficient ones: The most efficient appliances on the market are labeled Energy Star.
While the lighting strategy you choose depends on the level of remodeling you're doing, these design principles hold true.
1. Focus your effort on rooms used most. Improving the lighting in these rooms will make a lot of difference.
2. Replace existing fixtures. Most homes have incandescent fixtures. Replace them with dedicated, hard-wired fluorescents. If you use screw-ins, they may be switched back to incandescents when the bulb burns out, losing the efficiency benefits. Hard-wired fixtures may have better aesthetics and light quality, too.
3. Layer lighting for maximum impact. To produce dramatic effects, design ambient, task and accent lighting. Ambient lighting provides general room illumination and may reduce the need for additional portable lighting. Task lighting helps homeowners see better where they need it - under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen to help in preparing meals, for example. Accent lighting adds sparkle by focusing on an architectural detail such as a fireplace or on photos or artwork.
4. Consider the room's function and form. No matter where you start, consider which activities are most important for the room. Perhaps the easiest place to begin is the kitchen. As stated above, under-cabinet lighting provides task lighting. When there is space above kitchen cabinets, between cabinet and ceiling, it's easy to mount inexpensive strip lights to provide excellent, glare-free light for the entire room. A recessed downlight over a kitchen island will accent the island, help the homeowner see better when performing kitchen tasks and provide ambient light.
For the family room, use a combination of ambient, track and portable lighting. Use a reduced level of ambient light in the home office to avoid glare on computer screens. In the bathroom, both appearance and safety are important. At the vanity, light from either side of the mirror, as well as the top, to avoid shadows.
5. Use concealed light sources. Homeowners will notice the illuminated floors, walls and ceiling of the room instead of the light bulbs. Concealed light sources help eliminate direct glare from lamps.
6. Use fluorescents. According to DOE research, fluorescents use 25 percent to 35 percent of the energy used by incandescents to give the same light output and last up to 10,000 hours, compared with 1,000 for the typical incandescent bulb. Using a mix of fluorescents and incandescents is likely to be less efficient than using all fluorescents.
Most people associate fluorescents with the harsh, bluish lighting typically found in garages. For a nice, crisp light - quality as good as incandescents-choose fluorescents with a color temperature of 3,000 degree Kelvin, with a color rendering index (CRI) of 80 or greater.
Also, choose electronic ballasts for both linear fluorescents and CFLs. Electronic ballasts provide a better quality light and are more energy efficient. They don't hum, last longer and eliminate the turn-on delay typically associated with fluorescent lighting.
7. Limit the number of different light sources. For linear fluorescents, only use two different ones (3 foot and 4 foot), and for CFLs, only use three: 15, 26 and 32 watts. This makes it easier for homeowners to replace the lamps.
8. Consider controls. Controls such as photo sensors, occupancy sensors, dimmers and remote controls may help to reduce energy by ensuring that lights are only used when needed.
For other lighting tips or to find a lighting professional in the Sioux Empire area, visitwww.hbasiouxempire.com.