Look on the bright side
Lighting plays a vital role in the atmosphere and functionality of every home. With the correct type of lighting, light fittings and globes, you can create the desired mood in all the different spaces in your home… and save energy at the same time.
Types of lighting
Different types of lighting serve different purposes, including functional and aesthetic, and should be used in places where they are most suitable for best effect, making your home both user-friendly and beautiful.
A clever choice of lighting can make a room appear larger than it actually is, add warmth and cosiness to a space, or it can add an element of clean minimalism to an interior composition. “Whatever kind of lighting you choose for your home, bear in mind that a professionally lit interior, whether dim or bright, will truly complete the final composition,” says Melissa Davidson from The Lighting Warehouse. There are three basic types of indoor lighting - ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. Melissa explains what light fittings are best suited to each of these and where they can be used to best effect:
* Ambient lighting
“This is the lighting used to illuminate a space,” explains Melissa. “Also called general lighting, ambient lighting is mainly cast by light fittings that are installed in the middle of a ceiling. These days people are spoilt for choice as there are many types of light fittings that can be used for this purpose, such as downlighters, pendants, chandeliers, ceiling flush mounts and ceiling semi flush mounts.”
“Decide whether you want the light fittings to be features or focal points in the room or whether you want them to be inconspicuous and simply there to provide light in a discreet manner, and then choose your light fittings accordingly,” says Melissa. If you want your lights to be part of the interior décor, remember to select light fittings that will complement and accentuate the style of the room or space. “Dimmer switches are always a good idea as they will allow you to have some control over the brightness of the light and thus the ambience of the room,” she adds.
* Task lighting
This is direct light cast for specific tasks, such cooking, reading, working at a desk or putting on make-up. “For task lighting to best serve its purpose, it should be glare-free and must vividly illuminate the area to avoid any eye strain,” explains Melissa. Most popular for this job are spotlights, desk and floor lamps as well as under counter lighting in kitchens or offices.
* Accent lighting
Accent lighting is perfect for illuminating architecture, sculptures, art, water features, indoor gardens or any other features you may want to highlight in your home. Picture lights, wall sconces, wall washers, adjustable spotlights and uplighter floor lamps are ideal for adding drama and interest to specific spaces or objects.
Top three energy saving globes
“A judicious choice of globe is one of the easiest ways to save energy in the home and cut down on your lighting bill, doing your bit for the environment at the same time,” says Melissa. Simply by purchasing the right kind of globe, or replacing old globes with more energy saving ones, you can green your home’s lighting.
“Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are the most energy saving globes available and their components are recyclable,” explains Melissa. “They use 90% less energy than incandescent globes and because of their lower energy consumption, there is a lower heat build-up and thus a cooler environment, so you save on cooling bills.” LED globes last between 20 000 to 50 000 hours and some globes are dimmable.
LEDs are now available in a variety of shapes and sizes, including candle globes, golf balls and tubes, and you can even buy complete LED fittings, such as LED under counter lights or dimmable LED downlighters. Simply replace your old halogen downlighters, incandescent strip lights or spotlight globes with energy saving LEDs and save on your electricity bill.
“A simple and cheap way to reduce your lighting bill is to replace your incandescent globes with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs),” explains Melissa. They use 80% less energy and last eight times longer than incandescent globes. They provide a bright light and also generate a lot less heat than incandescent globes, which means lower cooling bills in summer.
Like LED globes, CFLs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including candle globes, golf balls and mini spiral globes to fit almost any light fitting.
* Halogen energy saving globes
“These use 20-30% less energy than an incandescent globe and are fully dimmable with a standard dimmer switch,” says Melissa. The three main types are household, candle and GU10 halogen energy saving globes, making them suitable for most light fittings.
More ways to save energy
* Dimmer switches
By simply dimming your lights, you are saving energy – dimming a light by 50% reduces the energy consumed by 40%. Dimmer switches can be used with halogen energy saving globes and there are now dimmable CFL and LED globes available, however you will need to get a special dimmer switch that is either CFL- or LED-compatible.
* Motion sensors
Ideal for outdoor security lighting, motion sensors only switch on lights when they detect movement and automatically switch them off after 30 seconds to five minutes. “Motion sensors are an inexpensive and highly functional solution, and they are easy to install. In fact, many outdoor lights come with built-in motion sensors,” says Melissa. They are also handy to use indoors in places where we often forget to switch off the light, such as in the pantry or under the stairwell. Halogen energy saving globes or LEDs are best for this purpose.
* Occupancy sensors
Similar to motion sensors, occupancy sensors only switch on when they sense movement, and then switch off again when no one is there. They are ideal for bathrooms, pantries, dressing rooms or passages. Halogen energy saving globes or LEDs are suitable for these lights.
* Daylight sensors
By investing in daylight sensors, daylight sensor globes and light fittings with built-in daylight sensors, you will save money and increase your home’s security. The sensor allows your lights to switch on at dusk and switch off at dawn. Halogen energy saving globes, LEDs or CFLs can be used with daylight sensors.
* Task lighting
“Relying on your task lighting can save a lot of energy as you are concentrating light just where you need it and reducing background or ambient light levels,” explains Melissa. For example, installing a track of LED under counter lights to illuminate the kitchen table where you prepare your food negates the need for the ceiling lights.
* Go solar
Lighting up your garden at night is wonderful for entertaining or highlighting certain features, and will improve your security. However, outdoor lighting can be costly to run. Solar lights are a great alternative – the sun charges the light’s battery during the day and your solar lights will come on when it gets dark.