Kitchen Lighting Ideas, Designs & Tips

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Design

Your kitchen is the most resource-heavy space in your house and most likely contributes to the bulk of your energy expenses. With a refrigerator, oven, microwave, and other energy-hungry tools, your electricity bill is tied to what you do in the kitchen. One way to regulate your electricity usage is to be strategic about your energy consumption by balancing your natural and artificial lighting.

By maximizing your use of natural light and making energy-efficient decisions for your artificial light, you can cut down your energy consumption. If you are looking to become more environmentally efficient or to save money, the kitchen is the best place to begin trimming down expenses. For example, you can install skylights so that you don't need to use energy during the day.

When you design your lighting, be sure to consider your kitchen's architectural design and optimum lighting level. The lighting should not be too bright, and it should not be too dim. It should be bright enough so that you avoid straining your vision while you are cooking meals, especially at night, but it should also be dim enough so that you feel relaxed. Here are some tips to help you find lighting options that are practical, attractive, and energy efficient:

Light Bulbs

Consider replacing your incandescent bulbs with compact florescent bulbs that are energy efficient and long-lasting. Compact florescent bulbs are available in different wattages, shapes, and sizes, so you'll be able to find one or multiple for your kitchen lighting fixture. Compact florescent light bulbs may appear more expensive at face value, but in the long run, they will help you cut costs.

Some utility companies will even offer full or partial rebates on energy efficient compact florescent bulbs. Contact your local utility provider to see what programs are available in your area. Compact florescent bulbs are ideal for mini pendant lamps that are located over your sink, stove, or kitchen counter. Some track lighting kits are also compatible with compact florescent bulbs.

If you're limited on time for planning your energy efficient options, one simple strategy is to look for bulbs and products with ENERGY STAR certifications. These products meet sets of guidelines from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. In addition to helping you save money on your utility costs, ENERGY STAR appliances will help you make a more positive environmental impact.

Over an ENERGY STAR bulb's lifespan, you can save more than $40. ENERGY STAR bulbs use 75 percent less energy, and they can last up to ten times as long.

Know Your Utility Costs

Call your energy provider to see if they offer free in-home evaluations to help you gauge your energy and lighting efficiency. A professional can help you determine whether it is in your best interest to invest in energy efficient lighting. Depending on where you live and your provider, you may be eligible for an in-home energy audit.

Some utility companies charge lower rates at night. It is important to be knowledgeable about your rates so that you can be strategic about how you operate your lights during the day and at night. You may decide that it's in your best interest to use your lights at night only.

Also keep in mind that utility costs vary based on where you live. If you just moved, and you notice a sharp change in your energy expenses, you may wonder why there is such a difference in your rates, even though you are using the same amount of energy.

Natural Lighting

Natural lighting is beautiful, and it can help you save significant money on your utility expenses. Skylights will illuminate your kitchen in the day time, and you will never need to flip a light switch until the sun goes away. By conserving electricity and leaving the lights off, you may be able to save a substantial amount of money with your utility expenses. Plus, natural light is absolutely beautiful and will give your room a charming look and feel.

How to Find the Right Kitchen Lighting

Use lighting to set the mood and tone of your kitchen. Don't just go for an industrial strength lighting fixture - otherwise, your kitchen may start to resemble your high school cafeteria.

Even though enjoy the look and feel of your favorite restaurant, you should avoid dimmed down lights. When you cook and do dishes, you need to be able to see clearly. Consider these options to help you experiment with your kitchen lighting:

Track lighting allows people to strategically plan where to place lamps. You may not want to use track lights as your primary light source, but you may want accent and mood lighting dispersed throughout your kitchen. Install track lights in addition to your ceiling lamps to control the ambiance in your environment.

Recessed lamps allow you to strategically plan your kitchen lighting without worrying about an additional design element. Because they are recessed into the ceiling, they offer no more than a source of light. You cannot see a fixture, so you do not need to worry about whether your lights add or detract from the room's overall décor.

Before finalizing your lighting options, consider factors including your room's overall size and your personal objectives. Make sure that your main work areas including the stove, counter, kitchen table, sink, and cabinet areas are properly lit. Consider adding a dimmer switch if you want to adjust the brightness of the lights in the room.

Last Updated: January 19, 2012
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About Ritika Puri Based in California, Ritika Puri has worn a number of professional hats ranging from blogger to quantitative researcher, martial arts instructor, and cartographer. No matter what she does, she loves to write and specializes in topics related to home improvement, personal finance, and business. She writes regularly for Investopedia.com's Financial Edge section, and her work has appeared on SF Gate, Yahoo! Finance, and The Chicago Sun Times Online. She holds a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College and an M.A. in Demographic and Social Analysis from the University of California at Irvine.  

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