My Home Energy Project: Step 3 – Lighting



A year ago I started a project to reduce the energy consumption in my condo. I’ve gone through two keys steps already (Measuring the energy I currently use, and taking steps to reduce the energy used for Heating (HVAC)). My next main area of focus, was on Lighting. Lighting accounts for approximately 20% of energy use, both in residential and commercial infrastructure. In order to reduce the energy used by lighting, I implemented two key upgrades:

  • Replaced all of my lighting with LED bulbs. LED’s use 85% less energy than incandescent light bulbs, last over 20 years, and do not contain harmful mercury (like CFL bulbs do). LED’s are the best choice for the environment, your wallet in the long term, and waste reduction. Additionally the price of LED bulbs are dropping – I purchased most of my bulbs at IKEA for under $5 (IKEA has promised to source only LED blubs by 2016).
  • Installed lighting controls. The lighting controls I purchased (Lutron) included both vacancy sensors as well as daylight sensors. The lighting must be switched on, but is programmed to automatically switch off if the sunlight is bright enough or if no one is in the room. Lighting sensors are under $20, available at most hardware stores, and programmable to your preferences.

So what exactly did the initiatives achieve last year? The total energy use for 2014 was 5179 kWh – while in 2013 it was 6484 kWh – well below the average household electricity consumption of 12,000 kWh.

I achieved an energy reduction of 20% in 2014!

Let’s take a more in-depth look at monthly energy use, starting with 2013 and moving into 2014. As you can see, below, the most notable difference was in the winter months (January, February, November, December). This makes sense, as last year I focused on improving Heating.

Screenshot 2015-01-06 at 10.57.18 PM
My Home Energy Use for 2013
Screenshot 2015-01-06 at 10.56.12 PM
My Home Energy Use for 2014

Additionally, during 2014, I welcomed a roommate in the fall. Sharing a space is a great way to further reduce your personal footprint, as a good portion of the energy used is shared (heating, cooling, ventilation, refrigeration, hot water etc).

I would love to hear what your household is doing to reduce energy and/or report your yearly energy use for 2014, below! Make this your New Year’s resolution and create fun and engaging ways to get your household involved!

Step 4: Plug Loads…

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32 thoughts on “My Home Energy Project: Step 3 – Lighting

  1. Hey, Laura, I just had an idea. Are you familiar with the post I did at Self-help Health on the BerryBreeze device? It’s something I think every home should have because it saves money on food, neutralizes toxins on produce AND helps the environment by cutting back on waste. I would love to see the word get out more about this, so am leaving this link, plus was wondering if you might want to reblog or something. I know a lot of people follow your site, so it would really help spread the word about this easy way to be more energy efficient and cost effective.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Laura! Cpl Kerkman here. I realize that this article is one out of a series of articles that can be applied to any homestead. I can see that you have it pretty figured out, and I’m excited to read more about your energy saving ideas.

    I couldn’t help but think that it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on how to convert a shipping container home into a habitable residence. This is a project I’ve been wanting to work on, but you know, being somebody who is only well versed in philosophy and warfare, I probably wouldn’t make it very “habitable” if you know what I mean. Plus, I’m sure you have a lot of ideas how to make it the most energy and cost efficient too. ^_^

    How to: Make your Shipping Container a Real Home and not a Military Hooch. Lol.


  3. Hi Laura, so happy you are looking at your energy consumption and managed to reduce it. It takes more conscious people like you to make a difference in our nation’s carbon footprint. since we have a solar hot water and solar electricity system, we are in pretty good shape with our energy usage. I have become very concerned about the massive amounts of plastics we are consuming (often in the form of one-time usage cups, utensils, etc). There are several documentaries on U-tube on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, really heart-breaking. I’ve made a new year’s resolution to avoid throwaways, starting with always bringing my travel mug for coffee, tea, etc when I’m away from home. From there, I’d like to take on other items and habits thru the year. Here is the post in which I am asking for others to join, in whatever small (or large) ways they want to:

    Liked by 3 people

    1. WONDERFUL. Thank you so much for sharing your inspirational journey with us! I’m hoping to tackle waste next year in a big way – I would love if you shared some of your top realizations.


  4. Great data! Very inspiring post, I’ve been discussing with my dad (an old school eco-warrior) how to measure our solar panel energy. We have only really determined that a dishwasher costs us nothing extra if we use it when the sun is out!


    1. Very interesting! I’m wondering if you could sub-meter the solar panel? It becomes much easier to manage and understand your energy use once you are able to measure it. Would love to hear how it goes!


  5. You’ve done a good job reducing your use and cost. Congrats! There is such large savings available in the form of better efficiency. It is that way for our households, businesses, and in our cars. We don’t need to be driving SUVs all the time.

    Nearly every bulb we use for long periods of time has been switched to CFL. The next phase will be to LED. I’m going to wait for the CFLs to get older and past their warranty. When they die, I’ll switch.

    Our household avg is 413 kwhr/month for the past 10 yrs. We are really happy with that. Granted, we have gas heat and cooking and water heating.


    1. Jim – that’s wonderful, under 5,000 kWh per year (well under the typical 12,000). So true that similar rationales can and should be applied to transportation. Three years ago, I gave up my car for environmental reasons, and it has been an incredibly rewarding decision. Would love to hear what you think of LEDs when you start making the switch!


  6. Inspiring account, Laura. We put in LEDs, here about four months ago. We have also had a 5 KWH solar system – twenty panels and an inverter installed. At this stage, any surplus generated is sold back into the grid for a meagre 8 cents per KWH, which is all you get in Australia with our current laws and Federal goverment, sadly, one of the worst in the world when it comes to energy policy and environment. Have yet to have our first power bill with our new system but expect to have cut our conventional power costs (coal-burning generated) significantly.


  7. This is a great time of year for people to be looking at what they can do to decrease their “footprint,” so the beginning of next year they can celebrate an annual energy savings like you! 🙂 So glad you mention getting rid of CFLs. Unfortunately the general public was sold a bill of goods where CFLs are concerned w/out being fully informed of the health risks/hazards they come with.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great ideas! It is strange to me that those so called “environmentally” supportive light bulbs were ever touted by environmentalists, given that they have mercury in them and you have to dispose of them at a hazardous waste facility.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome! Ive been really impressed with the quality of light as well, especially considering the price. Highly recommend. Would be interested to hear how you make out, if you do pick some up!


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