Install Energy Efficient Lighting

Today’s market offers you a bewildering array of light fixtures and bulbs! If you purchase and use energy efficient light bulbs, over the course of a year your savings will certainly add up – even though lighting constitutes only 6% of your total monthly energy costs. But remember, the best energy-saving device for lighting is the switch! Turn lights off when not in use.

Your lighting choices
When buying light bulbs, you probably think of ‘watts’ as a measure of brightness. In fact, the watt (W) is a measure of energy, not of light output. A 40-W bulb uses 40 watts of electricity, no matter what type of bulb it is. But the amount of light it produces will vary, depending on the bulb type. Light output is measured in ‘lumens’.

TIP: A standard 40-W incandescent bulb produces about 510 lumens, whereas a 40-W fluorescent tube produces about 2150 lumens – nearly five times as much light for the same amount of money!

1. Incandescent bulbs
Incandescent bulbs are the standard, familiar bulbs you use throughout your home. They are considered to be energy inefficient because they produce more heat than light. Some incandescents have been made more efficient by reducing the wattage (though there is a slightly reduced light output). Look for these energy saving replacement bulbs, which are commonly available: a 34-W for a 40-W; a 52-W for a 60-W; and a 90-W for a 100-W.

Although you may find incandescent bulbs with efficient sounding names like ‘long life’ or ‘extended life’, they are not energy efficient. They do have a longer life span because they only produce about 70% of the light that they could, while using the same amount of energy as an equivalent wattage regular bulb.

2. Compact fluorescents
You are probably familiar with the standard long tube fluorescent ceiling fixtures used in homes, stores and offices. The same technology has been improved for energy efficiency and light quality, and is packaged in a small compact shape for use in lamps and other lighting fixtures. There are a variety of wattages, shapes, and styles of compact fluorescents for different locations and uses in your home. Although they are 75% more efficient than incandescent bulbs and last 10 times longer, because of their initial cost, they should only replace those bulbs that are used for a minimum of three hours/day.

TIP: Look for compact fluorescent bulbs that carry the ENERGY STAR® symbol to ensure you are purchasing the most energy efficient lamps on the market.

Follow these steps to determine where and what kind of energy-efficient lighting you should install
for maximum benefit.

• Note which light fixtures are used for a minimum of three hours/day. If lights aren’t used extensively each day they are already very efficient!

• Once identified, record what the light is used for (reading, general room lighting); where the fixture is located (ceiling, table lamp, inside or outside); style and dimensions of the fixture (space available for a new bulb); type of switch (dimmer or three-way); and the wattage of the existing incandescent bulb.

• Take this information to a good lighting store and discuss your needs with their trained staff.

• When you take into consideration the amount of time the light is used, the shape and style of the existing fixture, and the function of the light, your home may have only 3 to 4 light fixtures which are appropriate for the new energy-efficient compact fluorescents and halogens.

3. Halogens
When compared to incandescent, halogens produce a whiter light, last two to four times longer, and use about 40% less energy to produce the same amount of light; however, they are slightly more expensive to purchase. They are a good replacement for outdoor flood and spot lights. For example, a 45-W PAR (parabolic aluminum reflector) halogen spot light replaces a 75-W PAR incandescent spot light. There is another type of halogen bulb, often called a low voltage or quartz, which requires a specifically designed halogen fixture. This bulb provides a bright, white, focused light suitable for highlighting art work or use as a desk lamp.

Note: Because most halogen bulbs (except the PAR flood and spot lights) require a specially designed fixture and are specific in their use, they have not been compared to the incandescent and fluorescent bulbs in this chart.

 Comparison of lighting choices




Reduced Wattage


Light emitted (lumens)





Initial cost (approx)






3,000 hours

1,000 hours

1,000 hours

10,000 hours

Cost of electricity
over 10,000 hours





Price based on 8 cents per kilowatt/hour.

To save energy costs, find the bulb with the light output you need and choose the one with the lowest wattage.

Standard Incandescent
ENERGY STAR Qualified CFL (approximate
equivalent in watts)
Minimum Light Output
40 10 450
60 15 800
75 20 1,100
100 29 1,600
150 38 2,600

Source: Office of Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Canada
Note: This chart is provided as a guide only. Check product package to determine
the equivalent wattage.

Light SwitchThe best energy saving device for lighting is the switch. Turn lights off when not in use.