1. Natural Light
Use natural light in your home as far as possible. Not only does this reduce electricity usage, but health, wellbeing and productivity are also promoted when we are able to see the natural passing of time. During the day you should ensure that curtains and blinds are open before you resort to switching on artificial lights, and position desks and other work areas to take advantage of natural light.
Consider installing a skylight or sun pipe to allow daylight into dark passages or rooms (see the section called ‘Natural light’ under ‘Home renovations’). A sun pipe is a type of solar tube installed between your ceiling and the roof to let in daylight. Some versions are made of flexible reflective material to allow for light to be reflected around corners. It is highly efficient and relatively inexpensive to install.
2. Energy-Efficient Bulbs
Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs or more expensive light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Compared to an incandescent bulb:
- CFLs use 80% less electricity and last up to 10 times longer.
- LEDs use 90% less electricity and last up to 25 times longer.
As a general guideline, a 60 watt incandescent bulb emits roughly the same amount of light as a 13 to 15 watt CFL or a 6 to 8 watt LED. Both CFLs and LEDs are available in a variety of whites, including a soft warm white, so you don’t have to settle for that ‘clinical’ look. CFLs come in a wide range of fittings, so make a note of the size and type of your old bulb or take it along with you to ensure that you purchase the correct replacement. LEDs can replace most halogen bulbs used in recessed spotlights; again it may be best to take your old bulb with you to ensure you buy the right fitting.
When disposing of CFLs, make sure that you don’t add them to your kerbside garbage, as they contain small quantities of toxic mercury that can be released when the bulbs are shattered. Rather take them to specialised drop off points, some of which are conveniently located at major supermarkets. LEDs do not contain mercury or toxic chemicals, but should be recycled at e-waste drop off points.
3. Task Lighting
Avoid lighting up a whole room if you are only using part of it. Make use of functional or task lighting, such as a desk lamp or side lamp. These lamps can be fitted with CFLs or LEDs to help you reduce your electricity use even further.
4. Occupancy Sensors
If you or your family members frequently forget to turn off non-essential lights, installing occupancy sensors might be the perfect solution. These work on the same principle as outdoor security lights – they detect movement in the room and switch on the lights automatically. If no movement has been detected for a preselected time, the lights are switched off.