Going Green With Your Home Lighting

The traditional incandescent and fluorescent bulbs are being phased out in favor of newer energy-efficient designs. They use less energy, generate less heat and give you a variety of lighting options depending on the room. Here is the rundown on current lighting types and how you can mix and match them to create the right mood in any room.

Halogen Lights

These bulbs contain a small amount of halogen gas which glows when electricity is applied. The quality and brightness of the light is similar to your incandescent bulbs. They don't create as much heat, which is wasted energy, and the light is more in a tight pattern as opposed to spread out in the room. These are the least expensive bulbs of the three most popular home lighting alternatives.

Halogen bulbs are used by home designers for task lighting. It places light over specific areas for working, or for creating focal points in the room. These are often used in cans over kitchen work surfaces or over desks to brighten work and study areas. They are also used to highlight art pieces on walls, on stands or in bookcases. Because these lights operate cooler than incandescent, they won't damage paintings, textile crafts or other art pieces. When you have the electrician install these focal lights, have them add a dimmer switch so you can adjust the mood in the room.

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL)

This bulb contains a small amount of mercury, but not as much as the traditional fluorescent bulbs. They burn cooler and use less energy than the old, long tubes. They now come in various designs from the original CFL made of coiled tubes, to a compact, enclosed design that looks almost like an incandescent bulb. These bulbs are made to be used wherever you have an incandescent light for broad lighting. Some of these bulbs are inexpensive, but full spectrum lights continue to have a much higher price than halogen.

Most rooms should have an overhead CFL to brighten the entire room for cleaning. Table lamps, floor lamps and chandeliers can make use of CFLs. These lights produce more heat than the halogens, so make sure to leave adequate space around them for the air to circulate. Some of these bulbs, but not all, can be used with dimmer switches and not all dimmer switches work with CFLs. Your electrician will match the CFL fixture with the right dimmer switch so there will be no problems.

Light Emitting Diodes (LED)

These tiny lights create a bright light with almost no heat. They have the longest life span of all designer bulbs, and they are the most expensive. Manufacturers continue to put effort into new LED bulb designs producing colors, flexible strips, tubes and bundled sections to put out a broad soft glow.

Use these lights to outline cabinets in the kitchen. Place them behind splash panels on countertops for a soft glow when the overhead and task lights are off. Place strips of LEDs under the handrails in a stairway for safety. Locate LED tubes behind strips of molding at the top of the room to shine a soft glow up onto the ceiling. These bulbs can be used outside, even in cold climates, so use them as an accent on deck posts, stairs and rails.

Work with an electrical contractor (like SDS Electric) to plan the best uses of these different bulbs in your home. Give each room a new look while saving on your utility bill.