When you consider that home lighting can account for as much as 14 percent of our total energy costs, switching to energy efficient lighting can be a real boost to the budget. But does energy efficiency mean sitting in the dark?
Not at all.
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute together with New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) have created an online resource for people looking to maximize energy efficiency as well as increase the quality of their home lighting.
Jeremy Snyder, director the Energy Program at LRC, helped transform The Lighting Pattern Book written by Russell P. Leslie and Kathryn M. Conway, and published in 1993, to make it more accessible to the average consumer.
The book identified architectural elements of rooms and its light patterns much the same way a dress pattern works, offering an overview of customizable options.
“NYSERDA realized it could be a useful tool and sponsored us to update it and bring it online,” said Snyder, who explained that some of the changes they added included interactive calculators as well as updating information based on latest technology. In 1993, CFLs were cutting-edge but in 2013, when the website went live, LEDs had become more available and affordable to the general public. But even as technology continues to evolve the website relevancy remains intact since visitors can input their own data from lighting packages into various calculators to ensure the most accurate calculations. “The goal of the website was to give ordinary consumers a resource they could use without having to consult with a lighting designer.
“The fastest payback is relamping. Remodeling offers the opportunity to improve lighting quality but typically with a higher upfront cost.”
How it works is simple:
Visitors identify a room in their home they’d like to upgrade, and then they click on that button. Options for upgrades fall into several categories from re-lamping (which means light bulbs) to rewiring to remodeling. Each mouse click brings you to more information that helps narrow the plan that lets consumers think about everything from lumen output to carbon footprint.
The website has also added a new resource: brief videos that people can watch that gives an overview of the types of lighting and other topics that include lighting tips for various rooms, economic calculations and an overview of plans.
And if you don’t understand the terminology, all you have to do is hover your mouse over the word, and the website will even give you a definition.
Even with all the choice, Snyder says a good rule of thumb of thumb is looking for the Energy Star label. “It’s not just about energy savings. It’s also about quality. The Energy Star is also a mark of quality, not just efficiency.”
* See the Lighting Research Center’s website at www.lrc.rpi.edu.