Frugal Interior Lighting Choices

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Is an LED light bulb better than a CFL bulb? What's a mini-pendant light? If lighting options leave you in the dark, here's the short course.

The following post comes from Veronica Bowman at partner site The Dollar Stretcher.

When finances are tight, or if you simply choose to live frugally, there are ways to make your home decor choices an active part of your frugal lifestyle. For example, the lighting choices you make can noticeably affect both your decor and your monthly energy bills.

Lighting is a vital part of any home decor. Obviously, the best money-saving tip involving lighting is to turn the lights off when you leave a room. Perhaps the second-most logical frugal lighting tip is to use the minimum amount of light required while you’re in a room. In addition to those simple tips, there are numerous other ways that you can incorporate money-saving ideas into your interior lighting choices.

The type of light bulb you use greatly affects your energy costs. Incandescent bulbs are the least expensive to purchase, but they’re not the most energy-efficient. A 60-watt incandescent bulb costs around $1 while a compact fluorescent bulb  costs about $4. You can justify the additional expense of switching from incandescent to CFL bulbs when you compare the 1,200-hour incandescent bulb life span to the 10,000-hour life span of the CFL bulb. Comparing usage of electricity costs between incandescent and CFL bulbs indicates that you can save several hundred dollars by using CFL lighting. This excellent comparison chart also provides information regarding LED bulbs. While LED bulbs are an energy-saving alternative to incandescent bulbs, their purchase price is not currently budget-friendly.

As an alternative to turning on a large ceiling light, you can place small lamps in various locations throughout a room to provide more directed lighting. A table lamp or floor lamp is ideal for a reading area. Task lighting can be turned on and off as needed and will illuminate just the area where you are working. Pendant and mini-pendant lights are decoratively attractive, money-saving lighting options for areas such as a kitchen work island or small dining area, or as ambiance lighting in a bedroom or bathroom. Wall-mounted swing-arm lamps are great for bedside reading or for placement beside a sofa or accent chair.

Three-way bulbs and dimmer switch options are excellent money-saving features for interior lighting. You might also want to explore timers as a way to reduce your expenses. Motion-sensor lights with an automatic shut-off feature that you can set in time increments that you prefer are an excellent money-saving option for any area of your home. They are especially ideal for closets, bathrooms, a basement, or a garage.

Nightlights are both a convenience and a safety feature for a home. They are inexpensive to purchase and use. There are many decorative and energy-efficient options available.

Natural light is your most frugal source of light. You can maximize its benefit by keeping your window treatments to a minimum whenever possible so that natural light can flow into the room. You can capitalize on the natural light entering a room by arranging large furniture items so that they do not interfere with the flow of light. Another frugal furniture arrangement tip is to create a reading area or place a dining table, desk, or craft table near a window in order to take advantage of the natural light.

Sunlight can definitely work in your favor in colder months. There is something very soothing about sitting inside on a winter day and absorbing the warm sunlight as it streams through the window. You might want to seasonally rearrange the furniture in your home to take advantage of such an opportunity. During the summer months, blocking the sunlight from the room will actually lower your utility bill. Therefore, when choosing window treatments, you might want to invest in sun-blocking window treatments that you can hang or remove, and open or close according to the outdoor conditions. Light, airy window treatments are ideal for letting in sunlight year-round and can be used to complement a variety of decorating styles.

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