Lighting Design

Energy-efficient lighting design focuses on ways to improve both the quality and efficiency of lighting.

Here is some basic information about energy-efficient lighting design principles and methods:

Indoor lighting

When designing indoor lighting for energy efficiency, you want to consider some basic design principles and methods.

Energy-efficient lighting design principles include the following:

  • Remember that more light is not necessarily better. Human visual performance depends on light quality as well as quantity.

  • Match the amount and quality of light to the performed function.

  • Install task lights where needed and reduce ambient light elsewhere.

  • Use energy-efficient lighting components, controls, and systems.

  • Maximize the use of daylighting.

Here are some basic methods for achieving energy-efficient indoor lighting:

  • Install fluorescent light fixtures for all ceiling- and wall-mounted fixtures that will be on for more than 2 hours each day. These often include the fixtures in the kitchen and living room, and sometimes those in bathrooms, halls, bedrooms, and other higher-demand locations.

  • Install dedicated compact fluorescent fixtures, rather than compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in incandescent fixtures, so that fluorescent bulbs continue to be used for the life of the house.

  • Use CFLs in portable lighting fixtures that are operated for more than 2 hours a day.

  • Use ENERGY STARŪ labeled lighting fixtures.

  • Use occupancy sensors for automatically turning on and off your lights as needed.

  • Consider light wall colors to minimize the need for artificial lighting.

  • If recessed lights are used in a ceiling with an unconditioned space above it, use only Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved fixtures that are airtight, are IC (insulation contact) rated, and meet ASTM E283 requirements.

Outdoor lighting

When designing outdoor lighting, you need to consider the purpose of the lighting along with the basic methods for achieving energy efficiency.

Outdoor lighting for homes generally serves one or a combination of three main purposes:

  • Aesthetics

    Illuminate the exterior of the house and landscape.

  • Security

    Illuminate the grounds near the house or driveway.

  • Utility

    Illuminate the porch and driveway to help people navigate safely to and from the house.

Here are some basic methods for achieving energy-efficient outdoor lighting:

  • Security and utility lighting does not need to be bright to be effective.

  • Use fluorescent, high-intensity discharge, or low-pressure sodium lights unlessincandescent lights are automatically controlled to be on for just a few minutes each day.

  • Consider incandescent flood lights with combined photosensors and motion sensors in the place of other security lighting options.

  • Use photosensors with fluorescent, high-intensity discharge, or low-pressure sodium lights.

  • Make sure outdoor light fixtures have reflectors, deflectors, or covers to make more efficient use of the light source and help reduce light pollution.

  • Use timers and other controls to turn decorative lighting on and off.

  • Use outdoor solar lighting where and if applicable.

If you're constructing a new house, you want to consider lighting as part of your whole-house design—an approach for building an energy-efficient home.

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