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Kitchen and Bathroom Lighting: Well-Used and Energy-Smart

(430 words)

Most renovations start with the kitchen and bathroom – a smart idea since these are the rooms most often used in your home and provide the best return on investment if you ever decide to sell.

A well-designed lighting system using energy-efficient lights and ENERGY STAR® qualified lights and matching fixtures in a wide array of sizes, wattages and colours not only transforms these functional rooms into inviting oases but will save you dollars, use less energy and contribute to the battle against climate change. ENERGY STAR is an international symbol for energy efficiency that will help you quickly identify products that are the most energy efficient.


A medium-sized kitchen requires between 200 and 300 watts of lighting using standard lighting techniques. Energy-efficient fluorescents provide the same amount of light as standard incandescents or high-wattage recessed lights but use one-third the energy, last longer and generate less heat in summer.

Renovating Tips

  • Reduce counter-top shadows with T8 fluorescent fixtures under cabinets.
  • Position the sink in front of a window to maximize daylight. Illuminate the sink area with recessed halogen or fluorescent valance lighting.
  • Suspend decorative pendant fixtures with compact fluorescent globes over the table, breakfast counter or island.
  • Install separate light switches for general use and specific tasks to confine the light to working areas.
  • If available, use dimmer switches on halogen lights to create different moods for cooking and entertaining.


Most bathroom lights are on two hours a day. A medium-sized bathroom using standard lighting costs up to $20 a year in electricity. Replacing incandescent fixtures with three wall sconces and ENERGY STAR qualified 13-watt compact fluorescent lights provides more light and costs only $7 a year.

  • Use recessed vertical T5 linear fluorescent lights with electronic dimming ballasts to eliminate shadows in the vanity area. Fluorescent lights with a rare-earth phosphor coating flatter the skin.
  • Install lights at the sides of mirrors rather than over or directly opposite them. Or use a single mirror fixture at least two-feet long over a light-coloured counter-top to eliminate shadows under the chin.
  • Highlight an elegant faucet and enhance the appearance of hands with a recessed low-voltage halogen spotlight aimed directly down on the sink.

For more information on the ENERGY STAR international symbol or tips on energy-efficient products, call Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) toll-free at 1 800 387-2000 or visit the OEE's Web site or ENERGY STAR's Web site, or write to Energy Publications, Office of Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Canada, c/o S.J.D.S. Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L3.