The right lighting can make all the difference. Learn how to make the most efficient and attractive lighting choices for your home.
The right lighting choices can also help you get the most out of your home by making spaces more comfortable, functional and attractive.
LED light bulbs are now the norm for most homes and businesses. Most people are making the switch from compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), usually distinguished by their spiral shape, which were designed as replacements to traditional incandescent and halogen bulbs.
While CFLs are more efficient than older, traditional incandescents, LEDs are far more effective for saving energy. Because CFLs contain mercury, they need to be handled with more care at home and disposed of safely through available recycling programs.
LED bulbs last up to 3.5 times longer than other bulbs. They're also dimmable, safe to use outdoors and don't emit heat, so they can reduce your home's overall cooling costs.
ENERGY STAR®-certified bulbs use 70 to 90 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Look for the ENERGY STAR® logo when you’re shopping.
Traditionally, we used to look at watts when shopping for light bulbs, but LEDs have changed the game. They use less energy, so their number of watts isn't the best way to determine their brightness because they have a lower wattage than traditional bulbs.
Instead, look at lumens, which are a measure of brightness. The higher the lumen, the brighter the bulb. Lumens can range from about 450 lm (similar to a standard 40-watt incandescent bulb or a 5-watt LED) to 2600 lm (a 150-watt incandescent bulb or 26-watt LED).
Along with brightness, you'll also want to decide on the colour temperature for your home, measured in kelvins. Colour temperature ranges from a warmer, yellow-toned glow (around 2,700K to 3,500K), to cooler, soft white (3,500K to 5,000K) to bright daylight (5,000K to 6,500K).
What you will choose depends on the space and your personal preference. For example, you may choose softer, warmer lighting for your dining room, and brighter lighting closer to daylight for a mirror area in your bathroom.
Finally, you'll also want to consider the CRI, or Colour Rendering Index. This is a measure of how accurately a light source illuminates an object's true colours. Find LEDs with a CRI in the mid-to-high 80s at least.
You can typically find a wide range of bulb configurations to fit many fixtures and colour requirements – so shop around.
How you use each room in your home differs, so chances are your lighting needs will differ too. Think about who is using the room, for what and how much natural light is available. Remember that the fixture type matters too. For instance, you may want to choose something different for direct overhead lighting than for a reading lamp.
Smart light bulbs allow you to control your lighting remotely using your smartphone or tablet. You can use the corresponding app to change the light's brightness level and colour (think red and green for the holidays or orange for Halloween).