woman turning on lightBy Elizabeth Roehrig
Consider this guide an aha! moment. Sticking to these clever pointers can help you reduce energy use while saving you a bundle on your bill. From the best bulbs to the smartest light switches, keeping your home bright on a dime just got a lot simpler. Photo by Gary Wade/Getty
Conserve in Unused Areas
There's no truth to the rumor that turning your lights on and off uses up more energy than just leaving them on, so keep unoccupied rooms in the dark. The one possible exception: fluorescent bulbs, which will burn out faster if they're constantly flipped. Keep these on if you plan to use them again within a few minutes.
Change Your Bulbs
Swap incandescents for Energy Star-qualified CFLs or LEDs and you'll save money two ways: First, you'll trim up to $6 a year off your energy bill for each bulb you replace. Then, even though the bulbs are more expensive (about $1.75 per bulb for CFLs and $10 for LEDs versus 38¢ for an incandescent), they last much longer. Incandescents usually burn out in less than a year, while CFLs only need to be replaced about every nine years and LEDs every 22. If you hate the corkscrew look, look for CFLs with domed covers that resemble traditional bulbs (the CFLs cost about $4.50 each).
Dim It Down
Putting dimmer switches in your most frequently used rooms can cut your bill by up to $30 a year (and add ambiance, too). A basic wall or plug-in lamp dimmer will cost around $20 and will work with almost any fixture, from a chandelier to a table lamp. To save even more, look for dimmers that are compatible with energy-efficient CFLs and LEDs and buy dimmable bulbs. They can cost up to 50% more than the non-dimmable kind, but you won't need to purchase them as often.
Make the Most of Your Decor
A light paint color on your walls instantly brightens a room. Choose an eggshell or satin finish, which will reflect light off the surface and bounce it through the space better than a flat or matte paint. Add a mirror to diffuse light even more-you may find you don't need to turn on a lamp at all when the curtains are open during the day. Finally, keep your fixtures shining their brightest: Dust bulbs and other glass parts every few months to keep them glowing.
If you (or your family) tend to forget to turn off lights, install occupancy-sensor switches to automatically shut them off a few minutes after you've left the room. A switch costs about $16 and is simple to install. They are especially useful in closets or laundry rooms, since you often leave these areas with your hands full.
When there are many different sources of light in a room-ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, table lamps-you can control the exact amount of energy you need at any given time. Using a single-bulb lamp to read instead of a four-bulb overhead fixture, for example, uses 75% less energy. Make sure you have at least three sources of light in spaces like the living room, where you do a variety of activities.
Related: Discover 10 things you didn't know you could rent.
Cut Outdoor Energy Use
Install motion-sensing fixtures around your home's exterior. They're great for added security and you don't have to worry about turning them off (or on) before bed. They come in a variety of styles and prices, and start as low as $13 for a basic security light. When it comes to landscape and path lighting, opt for low-voltage LED fixtures. Come the holiday season, consider what you use to decorate your home and trees: Stick to Energy Star-rated light strings (and put them on a timer) and you'll use 65% less energy than comparable incandescent lights.
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com .
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