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Renovating With Light: A Balance of Efficiency and Elegance

(519 words)

Canada is in the midst of a renovating craze. Knocking down walls and creating new uses for old spaces, Canadians in 2001 spent a total of $20.4 billion on repairs and renovations, an average of $2,580 for each homeowner.

An essential element of any do-it-yourself makeover or full-scale redesign is the lighting system. In search of style and savings, energy-conscious Canadians find one of the best returns on their renovating dollar is ENERGY STAR® qualified lighting products that balance elegance and versatility with economic and environmental value. The high-efficiency international ENERGY STAR symbol is a simple but effective tool that is helping consumers make the connection between energy consumption, cost savings and the environment.

ENERGY STAR qualified lighting products come in a variety of shapes, colours, temperatures and brightness. Compact fluorescent lights with an ENERGY STAR symbol on the package means that the products meet stringent specifications for long life, energy savings, start time, colour and brightness.

The larger the job, the bigger the opportunity to cut needless energy demands. Lighting a typical Canadian home starts at about $200 worth of electricity every year. Installing energy-efficient lights in place of standard incandescent bulbs could carve approximately $60 from your electricity bill each year and be better for the environment too.

Renovating Tips

  • When you hire a contractor for your renovations, make sure he/she is familiar with energy-efficient lighting systems and can recommend design options that utilize the wide range of ENERGY STAR qualified products.
  • Determine lighting needs and desired effect before renovations begin. Note the need for brightly lit workspaces versus leisure areas that are better suited to such energy-saving devices as dimmer switches and accent lighting.
  • Use fluorescent or ENERGY STAR labelled compact fluorescent bulbs to retrofit rooms requiring lighting for more than three hours a day, such as kitchens and family rooms. Since CFL bulbs last an average of seven years, they are also perfect for hard-to-reach places. CFLs can be screwed into traditional lighting fixtures. Better still, in your retrofit plan, opt for lights or fixtures that are designed specifically to hold a CFL to get the most benefit for your bulb.
  • If you are buying a new lighting system, consider buying a fixture that complements the lamp for the intended purpose. For example, when installing linear fluorescent lighting, insist on tubes marked T8 rather than T12. T8 lamps use 25 percent less power for the same amount of light output as a T12. Recessed CFLs should have a properly designed reflector, otherwise the light will be trapped inside.
  • Create different effects with decorating tricks such as using linear fluorescents for indirect light or using efficient track lighting or valances with CFLs to create wall washes for a softer feel.

For more information on the ENERGY STAR international symbol or tips on energy-efficient products, call Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) toll-free at 1 800 387-2000 or visit the OEE's Web site or ENERGY STAR's Web site, or write to Energy Publications, Office of Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Canada, c/o S.J.D.S. Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L3.