Unless you’re particularly handy, it’s best not to embark on a complicated lighting scheme for your new pad. You can, however, achieve a flattering and energy-efficient ambiance by merely changing bulbs. Cast yourself in a pretty light by shopping smart.
What type of light bulbs should you use?
Incandescent bulbs are the most common. They mimic natural light and offer a warm, soft glow for lamps and overhead fixtures. Incandescents are available as three-way bulbs for mood lighting without the dimmers, and also sold in a variety of colors and wattages.
Halogen bulbs emit a crisp white light which intensifies surrounding colors. Though halogen bulbs are pricier than incandescent, their longer lives make them more cost efficient. Oils from your hands can shorten bulb life, though, so use gloves when changing. These bulbs also burn extremely hot and shouldn’t be used in homes with small children. Allow them to cool completely before dusting or changing.
Xenon bulbs are a variation of halogen, but burn cooler and use less energy.
Fluorescent bulbs offer long life and energy efficiency. They offer true light, though unfortunately, don’t create the friendliest ambiance. Due to their extended burn time, they are ideal for hard-to-reach areas. Fluorescent bulbs are the best bet for your budget. With up to a seven year life, they use 1/3 to 1/5 of energy of similar strength incandescent, and last 10 to 20 times longer. They are available as screw-in as well as tubular models.
What do you need for each room?
Kitchen lights are left on for sustained periods of time, so invest low energy fluorescent light bulbs.
Living areas require a compromise between function and decoration. Halogen often work best.
Bedrooms require no strong lighting, except for reading. Use task lamps for desks and bedside.
How can you be more energy efficient?
* Traditional bulbs use 90% of their energy producing heat – that’s a lot of wasted potential. Cut your electricity bills with longer lasting modern bulbs. Energy efficient choices reduce heat production which reduces CO2 emissions. Longer bulb life also means getting on the ladder less often.
* Consider function first, lighting the areas where tasks are performed, and adding decorative lamps last. Using one stronger light rather than two weaker is usually just as effective and cuts energy use.
* Dimmers and “occupancy sensors” are easy to install. Both allow you to use just what light you need. This lengthens bulb life to save energy and money.
* Take advantage of these gorgeous long sunny days. Let the natural light shine in as much as possible.
What light is the most flattering?
Pink soft incandescent bulbs are generally considered the most pleasing to skin tones. Use in the bedroom or bath for flattering light. Try to avoid overhead lighting in the bathroom or for vanities. By positioning globe bulbs on the side of the mirror Hollywood-style, you’ll avoid unflattering shadows.
Enjoy the sun, stock up on candles, and remember to flip the switch when leaving the room.