How Smart Lighting is Beginning to Change Energy Use at Home

Smart lighting continues to be a market disruptor among residential lighting customers. Today’s consumers are motivated to save money, both through ever-rising utility costs and personal commitments to more environmentally friendly behaviors. As the market for smart lighting technology has expanded, prices have dropped to allow even greater segments of the population to explore the cost-cutting and energy-saving benefits it brings to the table.

What’s so smart about lighting?

Smart lighting is a broad term that is used to refer to lighting systems that are meant to be extremely energy efficient thanks to the technology incorporated into their design. In general, smart lighting comes in two categories. Each of these fulfills different consumer needs, and can drive behavior in separate ways.

The first part of smart lighting is smart fixtures. In the past, lighting fixtures were relatively simple, you flipped a switch that completed an electrical circuit, allowing power to flow to a light bulb. While smart technology builds on this principal, automation allows you to have the light automatically turn on when set conditions are met or gives you the ability to adjust the settings when not physically present.

The second part of an efficient smart lighting system is your choice of light source. While bulbs used to rely on filaments or energized gas inside large glass bulbs, today’s bulbs are smaller, last longer, and require far less energy thanks to advances in illumination. Modern bulbs from major suppliers, like Atlanta Light Bulbs, can provide just as much light, but at a cheaper overall operating cost due to both lower initial price and utility savings from the reduced energy consumption.

How is smart lighting changing customer behavior and vice versa?

The results of an upgrade to a smart lighting system in your home can have a dramatic impact on your utility bill, but may also have a telling impact on your family’s environmental consciousness. By making a commitment to smart lighting, a study by the University of Victoria indicates that you will become more mindful of the environmental choices you make, changing your habits, including your buying habits, to support the commitment you made. This, in turn, drives further innovation in smart technologies.

How can I choose a smart lighting solution for my home?

When selecting the smart lighting that’s right for you, look at your usage habits and determine where you need the most help. For households where people are home almost the entire time, energy-efficient bulbs can be the path to lower utility bills. If there are large swaths of time, such as working hours, when the house is empty, smart fixtures can help ensure you aren’t paying to light an empty house. Finally, there’s nothing wrong with adopting a comprehensive energy reduction strategy that makes full use of the technological advantages in both bulbs and fixtures.

What are some of the more popular smart lighting changes I can make at home?

While there are many different options when it comes to outfitting your home with smart lighting, there are a few that stand out for both their ease of adoption and popularity.

  • Motion Sensors – Motion sensors have long been a staple of security systems, and now they’re helping secure your electric bill against high charges. Motion sensing fixtures turn on and keep on the lights when a room is occupied, but once left empty for a certain amount of time, they turn the lights off. These are extremely useful in rooms which experience activity sporadically throughout the day, such as a bathroom or pantry, or even throughout homes that have no pets and frequently long intervals without a resident being home, like during work and school hours.
  • Compact Fluorescent (CFL) Bulbs -Almost everyone has seen CFL bulbs in use, even if you haven’t tried them yourself. These bulbs fit in regular light sockets, but instead of a normal bulb shape, they’re topped with a curling glass tube filled with gas. They really do save a significant amount of electricity over incandescent bulbs, but that savings can come with a few downsides. Fluorescent light may not be the best for all of your lighting needs, and many of them contain mercury. Mercury can be dangerous if not disposed of properly and many local refuse facilities are not equipped to properly handle this toxic material.
  • Light Sensors – Light Sensors can make sure your lights go out when the sun comes out. Photoreceptors measure ambient light and don’t power up your bulbs until it gets dim enough to warrant it. This can be the right choice for maintaining an even light level in large rooms, such as living rooms and bedrooms, and can also help make it look like someone is home even when your house is empty, a nice little security bonus. Cheaper models, however may not be adjustable, leading to them turning on before or after you truly need the light, and they may not have a control system that keeps the light from cycling on and off during variable light, for instance, when there is a break in cloud cover briefly or a set of car headlights pass by.
  • Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs – People are familiar with small LEDs, LED signage, and now even LED televisions, but it is only recently that LED household bulbs have been widely available with cost-effective pricing. LED bulbs are extremely long lasting, with service lives that can be measured in decades, not prone to breakage, and very efficient, edging out even CFL bulbs for the top spot in savings. They are a fast growing segment in the smart lighting industry.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Fixtures – The internet of things is fast growing to affect every aspect of our day-to-day lives. These devices, usually connected to your home network via WiFi, offer you complete control of your refrigerator, baby monitor, or other household device from your computer or smartphone. With lighting, that means the ability to turn your lights on and off, set timers, or even dim lights at will from wherever you’re connected to the internet. It’s a handy feature if your student usually leaves their bedroom light on all day or if you just don’t want to get out of bed to get the hall light. You will, however, need to make sure your home network is secure and your devices’ firmware systems are all up to date for your family’s security.

Smart lighting is a smart choice now.

Thanks to advances in lighting technology and the increased mainstream adoption of more environmentally conscious choices, smart lighting has never been more convenient or cost-effective choice for home lighting needs. If you’re ready to make a choice for a greener environment and more green in your wallet, there is a smart lighting system for your budget and lifestyle.

Carolyn Clarke
Carolyn Clarke is a freelance writer based in Southern California. She writes on a myriad of topics, including the influence of technology on our everyday lives.

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