7 tips for DIY energy savings
There are so many businesses out there now, selling energy saving lights - problem is, most of them aren't lighting professionals - and you simply can't review LED technology on the back of electricity and output maths alone - you need to know light to get it right.
To that end, I've put together 7 handy tips anyone can use for reviewing their energy hungry lighting problems...
1. Save a little before you save a lot...
There is an energy efficient halogen lamp solution for downlights that doesn't require new control gear (although it's a good idea, see tip 2), doesn't create spotty light through your home and won't leave you with lamps hanging out of your ceiling - it's called a 35W IRC Halogen MR16 60D lamp - you can get them everywhere, and they cost around $7 - $8 and last twice as long as cheaper MR16 lamps (stick with big brands, Philips, GE). Save 15W per light, and they will work on your dimmer (if you dim by just 10%, you'll increase their life by almost double). It's a start.
2. How OLD are your fittings?
All LV (low voltage) downlights have a transformer driving them - if your downlights are 10 or more years old, you're most likely working with "conventional" transformers (iron core). They suck up... wait for it... 12W each. That's 50W for the lamp, plus 12W for the transformer - 62W per downlight in your ceiling! So - combine updating your transformer with 35W IRC lamps and you'll be saving big time (save approx 23W per light).
3. Just say NO to replacement LED downlight (MR16) lamps...
I know they look like a good idea, but in reality, the majority of quality MR16 replacement LED lamps don't last more than 20,000 hours, they tend to have narrow beams of light (which will look really spotty compared to a normal 50W lamp), they struggle with existing transformers for LV downlights, most don't like dimmers, most struggle with harmonious colour - so you end up with green white, blue white, pink white and yellow white - often within 1 product in 1 brand and many fail far quicker than claimed as a result of heat issues. In reality - you can get a replacement downlight - fully designed & manufactured for LED technology, with it's own driver for $60 - $90 at the cheaper end of the scale - and you can get really high quality, high performance ones for $100 - $150 that will dim, will have homogeneous white colour and will give you a decent life expectancy. It's a far better investment in the long run. Especially when LED lamps are being sold for $30 - $40 each...and more than likely you'll have to change the transformer anyway to run it... so that's another $15 - $20, plus an electrician.... you get the picture.
4. Upgrade your decorative lamps
If you have light fittings that are used for impact, not light (think chandeliers etc) it's worth considering replacing your candle lamps with 3W LED candles (stick with the big brands, Philips, Osram and GE are the usual suspects) They work a treat - but don't go expecting them to make lots of light - they're bright, they'll "sparkle" and that's all you can really expect of them. Still - they can save 22W per lamp in your fitting - so they can be a worthwhile option - especially in multi lamp light fittings where the light produced isn't vital to the space.
5. Clean your lights... replace old lamps
Sounds a bit daft perhaps - but if you have light fittings with dirty diffusers, or old table lamps with a lamp that's been working away for 5 or more years - replace the lamp, dust the fitting and you'll likely find your light levels double. Especially worth noting that fluorescent technology depreciates (dims) over time - if you've had a fluro lamp running for more than 5 years, chances are it's producing half the light it should... and still taking the full amount of energy to run, so replace the lamp, and enjoy the light! Plus - get what you are paying for!
6. Rice Paper Lanterns - a blessing for those on a budget
Many older homes still have pendants in the centre of the room. Chances are, if you're looking to upgrade your lighting, you're also considering a few other renovations. Pretty soon the dollars add up, and you end up having to cut budget... and beautiful decorative lights are usually the first thing to go. So here's the tip - a high quality 20W CFL lamp, in a $10 (white) rice paper lantern, will fill your room with glare free light, while you work out exactly which decorative light fitting you want to invest in.
7. What do you need to see?
This one's the clincher - walk through your home - think about what you need to see in each room, now, have a look at your lighting - does it put light where you need it? Perhaps a floor lamp or two and some table lights, with energy efficient LED or CFL lamps will give you the light you need. Most likely you'll find the ambience created with this style of lighting makes your living spaces more inviting too. Light is for people - not for floors - so, make sure your light is going where you need it to see, not just making that beautiful timber floor sparkle.
Don't want to DIY?
If you've read all that and thought - I'd like some independent advice before I go spending my hard earned... Mint Lighting Design can complete an audit of your home lighting and provide you with upgrade solutions to meet your budget. We don't sell any light fittings at all - so our only focus is finding the lighting solution that's right for your home. When it comes to "one for one" replacement designs, we'll save you money every time. Call now to book your home audit & lighting design.