Tips: Bright Ideas For End of Daylight-Saving Time

With energy prices expected to soar higher and higher, finding ways to keep energy bills in check has never been more important to homeowners. Unfortunately, when Americans turn their clocks back one hour on Oct. 30 as daylight-saving time ends, energy bills get bigger in part because people keep their lights on longer throughout the winter months.

Despite the natural inclination to turn on more lights and keep them on longer, which can send homeowners' energy bills through the roof, with a few simple lighting changes people can still have the brightness of spring and summer without having to pay for it. LAMPS PLUS (http://www.LampsPlus.com), a specialty lighting company, offers tips to keep your autumn and winter days glowing without your energy costs growing:

  • Remove all high-wattage bulbs and replace them with lower wattage models. Simply going from a 100-watt or 75-watt bulb down to a 60-watt bulb can save energy. Most homeowners never notice the lower wattage bulb output, but it can add up to make a real difference in energy cost savings.
  • Consider replacing an existing fixture or lamp with an energy-efficient fluorescent model. Today's fluorescent lighting comes in a greater range of styles than ever before, plus the fluorescent tubes themselves have been re-engineered to provide softer and more flattering light.
  • Change dark lampshades to lighter ones to allow more light into the room. It's quite amazing to see how much brighter a room can be simply by switching your style of shade.
  • Consider lighting products that feature "Full Spectrum" capabilities, which provide highly cost-efficient illumination. For example, one Full Spectrum torchiere floor lamp can have the light output of 500 watts from around a 100 watts cluster of bulbs, meaning you can light an entire room from one source instead of many fixtures.
  • Too many people leave lights on all day to avoid arriving home in the dark. Instead of wasting energy all day, install a light sensor to your existing lighting. When you come home at the end of the day you will have some light to welcome you without unnecessarily burning electricity for hours and hours.
  • Take better advantage of perimeter lighting by throwing light against light-colored walls. Light will travel three to four times further when it's reflected off a light surface.
  • Add a dimmer to your existing lighting. Dimming your lights an average of 50 percent will cut home electricity usage a whopping 40 percent over time. It also will make your bulbs last 20 times longer, saving you the hassle of frequent and sometimes expensive bulb replacement.
  • Place your floor lamps next to corners so you will have two walls to reflect the light back into the room. This is an easy way to create a brighter atmosphere without having to turn on extra lights.
  • Because the nights are longer, consider enhancing your landscape lighting so that you can enjoy your yard at night. Use transformers with a timer and photocell to help you save money by lighting your yard more efficiently.

Additional information on energy savings for light bulbs and fixtures can be accessed at http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=lighting.pr_lighting.

Fire deaths are highest in winter months, which call for more indoor activities and increase in lighting, heating and appliance use. Additional information on electrical fire safety can be found at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/safety/tips/electrical.shtm.

This article originally appeared in the 10/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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