Modern Lighting Design

Lighting is, perhaps, the single most important design issue in the home. It sets a mood. It will highlight features, make a room relaxing or vibrant. It is the lighting that makes a room function -be it natural or artificial. As buildings are opened to the outside, natural light is used as a design feature.

Only 3% of your household consumption goes to lighting, while 60% of the energy goes to heating the space. The choice of lighting, however, is not just a matter of what will cost least over a short term. Energy efficient lighting allows for the reduction of CO2 emissions.

With the choice of light bulbs and luminaires, that allow the right direction of light, giving due attention to lighting design is even more important. Combining CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) with LED (Light Emitting Diode) overcomes the problems with both and can provide a lighting system that is effective and able to meet varying demands.

The technology in CFL’s has improved massively in recent years. In the past the color of CFL’s was limited to cold blue light, but they are now available in the full range from cold blue to warm white. There are CFL’s for every application, they can be used anywhere an incandescent light would have been used, and they don’t have to be ugly.

LED lights have been around since 1979 but getting a good quality white light was always a problem. LED’s naturally emit blue, red or green light and that needs to be altered in some highly technical way to produce white light. In commercially viable terms, LED‘s giving a good white light have only been available since the late 1990’s.

With the advances in LED technology and the range of LED lamps, it is difficult to see the point of halogen. They are a bit cheaper but you will need to buy five during the life of one LED lamp. And the LED will cost about 9$ less per year to run.

Is it worth changing? A new four bedroom house has maybe 20-25 lamps, usually being a mix of incandescent CFL’s and halogens. They will consume about 1800 kWh of electricity per year at a cost of 220 $. Switching to all CFL’s and LED’s will reduce the consumption to about 450 kWh and the cost to 60$ per year. That is, a saving of 0.6 tonnes of CO2 emissions (Tim Pullen’s book, The sustainable building bible. Building homes for a greener world, presents the facts and analysis of renewable energy technologies available to  design a sustainable home).

Integrating a smart design –based on a green approach to lighting– with your personality and decor, may require having a conversation with a lighting consultant. Additionally, with the wide array of options from pendants to recessed and retrofitted lighting, it is still worth exploring the innumerable possibilities as well as taking joy in finding the lighting fixtures that best fit your blueprint, in order to balance the space’s functionality and to reflect your style.

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