Although there are greater contributors to global warming, easy and relatively inexpensive lighting alternatives are available to help you reduce your lighting energy needs. And every little bit of emissions reduction helps.

Lighting costs the average Australian household $100 in electricity each year. This electricity use generates about three quarters of a tonne of greenhouse gas per household per year.

Source: Australian Greenhouse Office

Compact fluorescent lighting and LED technology provide light using a fraction of the electricity of incandescent bulbs and halogen downlights. However, many people have resisted making the switch, incorrectly thinking that halogen downlights are energy efficient, thinking that they don’t have the right technology or thinking that cold ‘ugly’ fluorescent light is the only aesthetic option. The good news is that greener and good-looking alternatives are available.

Lighting tips

  • Maximise your use of natural light using windows, skylights and solar tubes.
    You shouldn’t need artificial lighting during daylight hours.
  • Swap any conventional incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent light bulbs. They may cost more to buy but they last up to ten times longer than normal bulbs and use a fraction of the electricity. In fact, a single compact fluorescent bulb can save up to $50 off your energy bills and over half a tonne of greenhouse gases over its life.
  • Look for bulbs that have a ‘warm white‘ shade as they provide a softer, more natural-looking light.
  • Remember to turn the lights off when you leave a room.
  • If you want outdoor lights for security, choose those fitted with a motion sensor so that the light is on only when it's needed.
  • Remember that ‘low voltage‘ does NOT mean low energy.
    Low voltage downlights need far more energy to light a room than a single compact fluorescent light. Compact fluorescent downlights are starting to become available.

For more tips on buying lighting products, see Tanya Ha’s book The Australian Green Consumer Guide.