Green Lighting 101: Your Guide to Energy Efficient Interior Lighting

by , 01/31/11

sustainable design, green design, energy efficient lighting, green lighting, eco lighting, led light bulb, cfl, compact=


The Incandescent: A fading standard.

Although we all love Thomas Edison, his original tungsten-based light bulb was never known for its efficiency. Although they were the lighting standard for decades, the lighting industry is finally moving away from incandescent bulbs at a quickening pace — even making some bulbs illegal, such as any flood lamp greater than 65 watts. Thankfully, there are lots of better, more efficient, and longer-lasting options out there.

sustainable design, green design, energy efficient lighting, green lighting, eco lighting, led light bulb, cfl, compact=

Halogen and Zenon

A halogen lamp is an incandescent lamp that houses a tungsten filament contained with an inert gas and a small amount of a halogen such as iodine or bromine. Halogen and Zenon technologies allow you to get more light from fewer watts, but they are still rather energy-inefficient. Although a 100-watt Halogen provides about 250 watts of incandescent equivalent light, the bulb still requires 100 Watts — whereas a fluorescent would only need to be about 60 -75 Watts (although such a high wattage CFL is not made.) The benefit to Halogens and Zenons are that they are small in size compared to incandescents or fluorescents. Zenon bulbs are also significantly more efficient than halogens, as they operate at a lower temperature and maintain a better quality of light. Halogen Energy Savers (from Philips) are uniquely designed to provide the same crisp, white halogen light as standard halogen bulbs, but they use much less energy. When using Halogen or Zenon bulbs, the best option is usually to choose low-voltage systems that operate at 12 volts as opposed to the standard 120 volts seen in regular incandescent light bulbs.

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  1. Bill486 June 23, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Great effort for efficiency!!

  2. lkohan March 21, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    I find your article informative, but I would like to add a couple of comments about your information on natural day-lighting. Heliostats are a mainly a commercial “concentrator” technology used for heating as well as lighting and are usually mounted on flat roofs.

    A major, and highly affordable natural day-lighting technology which you did not mention are solar tubes (aka tubular skylights, solar pipes, sun pipes, etc.). A solar tube uses a clear dome that passes sunlight through highly a reflective tube that then diffuses the natural light into a space. They resemble round ceiling-mounted light fixtures (with no switch), and are great used in hallways, closets, bathrooms, kitchens, etc. They are inexpensive (on the order of a few hundred dollars or less), and do not alter your roof structurally, since they fit between the attic rafters. While this technology has been around for about 20 years, it only improves, and comes down in price. Solar tubes are a great way to bring in natural light to areas where windows are not feasible. It’s hard to walk by these and ignore the impulse to turn off a light switch.

  3. greenlivingguy February 2, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Hello all. My first comment on this site. Yeah!! Anyway, for further reference, please consider checking out my book Green Lighting with McGraw-Hill. As it says on the site and book:
    Flip the switch to energy-efficient lighting

    This do-it-yourself guide makes it easy to upgrade residential and commercial lighting to reduce costs and environmental impact while maintaining or even improving the quality of the lighting. Filled with step-by-step instructions, Green Lighting shows you how to save money and energy with light-emitting diodes (LEDs), compact fluorescent lighting (CFL), solar lights, windows, skylights, fixtures, controls, and other bright ideas. Methods for calculating return on investment, plus recommended sources for energy-efficient products, are included in this practical resource. Thanks!!!

  4. joppe January 24, 2011 at 3:02 am

    “a 23 watt CFL can produce about 100 watts of light”

    no, it can’t. i presume you meant to say “about the same amount of light as a 100 watt incandecent”

  5. solidapollo January 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    “Why do the LED bulbs I have in my light fixtures at home glow at night even with the light switch turned off? Am I wasting electricity or is there something wrong someplace?”

    The reason they still shine is the following:

    1. You have a dimmer in the wall.
    2. You have a timed switch, like timed switches in bathrooms.
    3. If the answer is NO to number 1 and 2 it is because the phosphur in the LEDs is still excited and it take a couple of minutes to loose the “excitment”.

  6. solidapollo January 23, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Hi Pierre F:

    That is because you have not seen good quality LED lightbulbs. Light is exactly like incandescent, you can even notice the difference.

  7. Pierre F. Lherisson January 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    I still prefers the 100 watts incandescent light bulbs for reading because they are much brighter

  8. AGAPETUS January 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Why do the LED bulbs I have in my light fixtures at home glow at night even with the light switch turned off? Am I wasting electricity or is there something wrong someplace?

  9. DORGD January 20, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    guess what you have to do if you break one in your home??? 3 pages of instructions because they contain MERCURY!!! But don’t eat fish with mercury in them but go ahead and put these all over hour home!

  10. itz4me515 January 20, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Why didn’t you cover cold cathode lighting?

  11. solidapollo January 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    LED Lighting has more uses than you can imagine. For example, LED are being installed in carpets.

    Look here to see what I mean:


  12. Charly January 19, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Hello! I saw this LED lamp first in a documentary called “Buy, discard, buy”, it shows how lamps and many other products are designed to fail in a determined time of use, wich is called “planned obsolence”. I let all of you here the link:

    (it’s in spanish, didn’t found it in english)

  13. kdalnation January 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Great article! I had no idea how much I didn’t know about green lighting. Time to get my home up to par.

  14. Andrew Michler January 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Living off grid lighting take up 40% of my energy budget- LEDs are going to make a huge difference.

  15. David Brodeur January 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    A great guide for the lighting newbies out there, I can’t wait for those OLEDs to become more commonplace!

  16. Rebecca Paul January 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    This article is great! I’ve definitely found myself lost from time to time when it comes to eco friendly lighting. This post is informative and easy to understand. Excellent work.

  17. Kestrel Jenkins January 19, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    brilliant post. the explanations of lighting terms help clarify some of the specifics i was a bit fuzzy about. history aspects are super interesting as well.

  18. Jessica Dailey January 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    The OLEDs look really cool — seems like they would be perfect for street lights!

  19. Diane Pham January 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    thanks for this post dan! this is great guide for people who are looking to change out their bulbs and don’t know what their choices are!

  20. Jasmin Malik Chua January 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    This is infinitely helpful—thank you!

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