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General Lighting Tips


There are many styles of CFLs, so shop for the ones that are right for you. Some look like they are twisted, while others look like regular incandescent light bulbs.

Why Make the Switch?

  • CFLs last longer and consume up to 75% less energy than standard bulbs.
  • Energy efficiency pays. The average Canadian home has 30 light fixtures that consume close to $200 worth of electricity every year.
  • By replacing just five bulbs with ENERGY STARĀ® qualified CFL bulbs in areas that require more than three hours of light a day saves approximately $30 a year.
  • According to the Clean Air Foundation (CAF) if every household and business in Toronto replaced just two bulbs, we could eliminate 17,667 tonnes of green house gas emissions annually.

Did you know that in regular incandescent bulbs, less than 10% of the energy they consume is used for lighting. The remaining 90% is wasted in the form of heat.

The next time you need to replace light bulbs, remember that each ENERGY STAR qualified CFL bulb you purchase is equal to 6 to 10 regular incandescent light bulbs and uses up to 75% less energy.

Switch Habits

When you leave a room for even a short time, turn off the lights. For rooms that are unobstructed by partitions, (i.e. bathrooms, laundry rooms) occupancy sensor switch plates can be used to automatically turn lights on and off.

Use Daylight

Use daylight when possible. Schedule those activities requiring good lighting for the daytime. Place your reading chair near the window. Dirty windows let in less light so keep them clean.

Clean Bulbs and Fixtures

Dirt and grime from cooking, cigarette smoke, and dust obstruct light, so keep bulbs, fixtures, and shades clean. For safety's sake bulbs should be removed from their fixtures before being cleaned and should be thoroughly dried before being replaced. Make sure bulbs are cool before cleaning.

Lamp Location

Position lamps to make the most efficient use of their light. Place a lamp by your reading chair or at your desk so you won't have to light up the whole room.

Lamp Shades

Many decorative lampshades bottle up light or direct it where you don't need it. Light-colored translucent shades are the best for releasing light. Shades on reading lamps should direct most of the light downward. Remember to keep shades clean to let out more light.

Lighter colored walls, furnishings, curtains, and rugs reflect light and reduce the amount of artificial light a room needs.

Fluorescent Lighting

Fluorescent bulbs produce about three to four times as much light per watt as incandescent bulbs. For example, a 40-watt fluorescent bulb produces more light than a 150-watt incandescent bulb. Fluorescent bulbs are generally more expensive but last 10 to 15 times longer than incandescent bulbs. While fluorescent lighting may not be appropriate in the living room, dining room or bedroom it should be considered for the kitchen, bathroom, and work area. Lightweight fluorescent fixtures can easily be mounted in these rooms and plugged into nearby outlets. Deluxe white-fluorescent bulbs produce the most pleasing light.


Solid-state dimmers allow you to reduce the energy going to incandescent bulbs. A light can be adjusted from bright for reading to a gentle glow for watching TV or dining. Some dimmers require no installation. You simply plug the lamp into the dimmer and the dimmer into a wall socket. Dimmer switches can also replace wall switches.


If you don't like coming home to a dark house or apartment, or want the added protection of leaving some lights on when no one's home, consider lighting timers, which turn lights on and off automatically at pre-set times. Using timers is much less costly in the long run than leaving your lights on all day.

Switch plate occupancy sensor can also be used to turn lights on and off automatically. Lights remain off until motion is detected.

Use Lighting Design For Style and Energy Efficiency

General lighting illuminates an entire room. Usually switch-operated, the most common form of general lighting is a hanging ceiling fixture or a series of recessed fixtures. A well-placed floor lamp can also serve as general lighting.

When you think about your general lighting, pay attention to whether the room is over- or under-lit. Always use a fixture's recommended bulb wattage, or install a dimmer for maximum versatility.

Task lighting provides the right amount of direct lighting for a particular activity, whether it's reading or chopping vegetables on your kitchen counter.

Accent lighting sets off artwork, treasures on a mantle, or architectural features. It can either be directed downwards, such as recessed pin-spot lighting shining down on a piece of art, or upwards, such as wall sconces directing light up onto a room's crown moulding.