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Green Lighting tips

Energy Efficient Lighting

Useful tips on creating effective dining room lighting designs. Have you ever heard of daylight harvesting? The idea is to leverage the available natural light for greater energy-efficiency and esthetic value. If you are green-minded and planning to build a new home, daylight harvesting is an amazing energy saving concept.

For example, bedrooms don't need natural light during the day, making a Northern exposure perfectly acceptable. On the other hand, for rooms you spend a lot of time in - like the kitchen or family room - facing South or West will provide plenty of natural ambient light.

Another savvy energy-saving idea is to install a dimming system that controls lighting throughout the entire home. According to Segreto, the best system is Lutron's Graphic Eye. This product allows the owner to schedule a sophisticated lighting plan for every fixture in the house with dimming capability. Not only can lamps be scheduled to turn on at a specific time, but at a specific power level as well. "The beauty of the Lutron system is that you can create and program lighting scenes for each room, judiciously choosing energy levels for esthetic reasons and cost savings at the same time," she says.

Segreto explains how lighting scenes work. A morning scene in the kitchen might include the light over the kitchen table set at 50%, counter lights at 50% and ambient light at 50%, depending upon window size and the available natural light. The evening scene after dinner would be completely different with the light over the table and countertops at 30% and wall washers at 60-70%. The controls are located in a wall box and are programmed after installation. Then, as the seasons change and the lighting needs change with them, the program will need to be adjusted. The schedule can also be manually over-ridden when special needs arise, like creating the mood for a party. Using a system like this saves a lot of energy because all the lights are not constantly on 100% power levels. Nor do you need to rely on memory to turn down dimmers or shut off lights. Plus, dimmers extend bulb life, which provides another layer of savings. A system like this requires bulbs that are dimmable. The good news is that compact fluorescent bulbs, which are such big energy savers, are now dimmable and come in almost every style and size, just like traditional incandescent bulbs. Even though these bulbs cost more upfront, the energy savings make for a quick return on the investment.

About Linda Segreto Linda Segreto has been designing lighting systems around the U.S. and abroad for three decades. She has a Masters in Architectural Lighting and, early in her career, worked with James Nuckolls, one of the founders of the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD). Her ability to interface with architects and construction managers ensures project quality, timeliness and adherence to client specifications. Design projects range from residential to commercial, including Bell Atlantic Corporate Headquarters, Cornell University Research Center, Columbia Presbyterian Health Systems, and Tiffany and Company Corporate Headquarters.

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