VIDEO: Energy-saving lighting makes kitchens brighter

| by Gary Wollenhaupt
VIDEO: Energy-saving lighting makes kitchens brighter

Energy-efficient lighting options can help shine new light on the kitchen, often the most-used room in any home.

New energy-efficient lighting such as compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are becoming more popular as consumers look for added value and performance for their homes.

In addition, new government standards for light bulbs mean traditional incandescent bulbs are being phased out in favor of more energy-efficient alternatives.

To help consumers make the transition, members of the American Lighting Association offered some tips to incorporate energy-efficient lighting into any kitchen.

In considering lighting, the first step is to analyze the functions and activities that take place in the kitchen.

“Because people are spending more and more time in their kitchens and using that area for so many different things, we need to be able to have lighting for every task and function,” said Catherine Schlawin, manager of residential lighting at Dominion Electric Supply Co., a chain of lighting showrooms in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area.

According to the experts, the best lighting design method could be called “the power of three.”

“Use a minimum of three types of lighting — a central fixture, recessed and undercabinet — and put each on different switches or dimmers,” said Joe Rey-Barreau, an associate professor at the University of Kentucky's School of Interior Design. “Dimmers in the kitchen are often not considered a high priority, but they can add dramatic impact.”

Schlawin worked with a builder to install a wireless lighting control system in their model home's kitchen/nook/family room area. The homeowners were able to dim the lighting depending on their needs, selecting a certain amount of lighting when serving breakfast and lunch, then opting to change the mood during dinner or entertaining, and going to full brightness when doing tasks such as homework and cleaning.

As an architect, Rey-Barreau strongly recommends accent lighting.

“It can truly make the difference between a space that is purely functional and one that is elegant,” he said. One simple technique Rey-Barreau uses is to put LED strip lighting in the toe-kick of the base cabinets.

“This is a good method for creating indirect lighting that is ideal for entertaining,” he said. “LED strips can also be placed on top of the cabinets. If there is artwork on the walls, use either adjustable recessed lighting or small track fixtures to highlight it.”

According to Rey-Barreau, new lighting technology offers even more choices for energy-conscious consumers.

“Compact fluorescent lighting is an excellent option for many reasons,” he said. “These bulbs are four times more efficient than incandescent or halogen. It is also important to know that the color of compact fluorescent bulbs is now equal to, or better than, incandescent bulbs.”

LED lighting is fast becoming an excellent option for kitchens, with LED bulbs available as undercabinet fixtures and even recessed lighting.

“At Dominion Electric, we've been embracing LED because the color can be fabulous; it's often dimmable, and it's so energy efficient while also being very tiny,” Schlawin said. “Overall, the kitchen can be one room where homeowners will venture out of their decorating box. The rest of their house might be very traditional, but they can let loose a bit in the kitchen and go a bit more contemporary.”

To see kitchen designs with energy-efficient lighting, watch this video from the American Lighting Association:

For more information, see our Energy-efficient Lighting Research Center.

What do you think of CFLs, LEDs and other new energy-efficient lighting? Continue the conversation in the comments below!

Topics: Interior Design, Kitchen, Lighting, Remodeling

Gary Wollenhaupt

Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.

wwwView Gary Wollenhaupt's profile on LinkedIn

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