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The Lighting Revolution: A Light Bulb's Journey Into Energy-Smart Fashion

(502 words)

Lighting has undergone dramatic changes since Canadians Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans patented a light bulb in 1875 and Thomas Edison flicked the switch with an improved and commercialized version of their invention four years later.

Today, there is such an array of lighting choices and so many artistic ways to display them that virtually any effect can be created – shadow-free lighting in the kitchen; flattering illumination in bathrooms; a soft chandelier glow for the dining room; mood and accent lighting for family and living rooms; and security lighting outdoors. And with today's advanced technology, they can be done in environmentally protective and cost-effective ways.

In the past, "fluorescent" has been associated with flickering, buzzing tubes that emit ghostly green/blue hues. Today, fluorescents now come in slimmer tubes that fit standard light fixtures and are available in many shapes, sizes and wattages. Designers have also modified the colour-rendering qualities of energy-efficient lights to provide a wide spectrum of choice, including the warm white light typically associated with incandescents, so choosing a CFL no longer means sacrificing on light quality.

Savvy consumers are eagerly embracing the energy-efficient option. In a study conducted by the Lighting Research Center, 700 observers were presented with two identically built townhouses, one with energy-efficient lighting and one with a conventional system. A resounding 97 percent of those surveyed scored the energy-efficient townhouse higher in lighting comfort and attractiveness. They said they'd pay the initial higher price to install such a lighting system to get lower annual operating costs.

Tips on Joining the Lighting Revolution

  • Look for products labelled with the international ENERGY STAR® symbol. They are widely available across Canada.

  • Install timers and motion sensors to avoid wasting light.

  • Cut costs and create a mood with dimmer switches.

  • Choose the right light for the occasion. For example, Cool White fluorescent tubes for work areas, Standard Warm White Deluxe for general room lighting, Deluxe Warm White to flatter skin tones.

  • Replace incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that last up to 10 times longer and consume two-thirds less energy, making them perfect for lights most frequently used and those in hard-to-reach areas. A 20-watt CFL, for example, will emit the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent while using 65 percent less electricity.

By using only energy-efficient lighting systems with ENERGY STAR qualified bulbs and matching figures, you will save 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.

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 sites at or, or write to Energy Publications, Office of Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Canada, c/o S.J.D.S. Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L3.