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Guide to greener kitchens: lighting 8/11
(This article is adapted from ConsumerReports.org.)

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Countertops | Cabinets | Flooring | Lighting | Paint


Lighting that's energy-efficient

Lighting your home accounts for about 12 percent of its total energy use. That's why energy-efficient lighting can make a big difference in your bill.

Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that are Energy Star-qualified must last at least 6,000 hours and can last up to 10 times as long as traditional incandescent bulbs. That can save you $60 or more per year over traditional incandescents for 10 often-used bulbs. Today's CFLs also work better and cost a fraction of the price of those sold only a few years ago.

But LED bulbs—short for light-emitting diode—are even more efficient. Residential LEDs that are Energy Star-qualified use at least 75 percent less energy than incandescent lighting and last 25 times longer—or about twice as long as a typical CFL.

CFLs sold today contain a fraction of the mercury found in older versions. But that still means they must be recycled, rather than discarded with ordinary trash; major retailers are among the places adding CFL recycling centers. You'll also have to follow EPA cleaning guidelines if the bulb breaks. LED bulbs contain no toxic mercury and can be recycled as electronic waste.

Here are some steps for safer, more-efficient kitchen lighting:
• Only certain types of lights work well in recessed cans, so look for those that are labeled "suitable for use in enclosed fixtures." If the ceiling is insulated, look for fixtures that say "Washington State-approved" or "IC" rated for insulation contact.

• When remodeling, consider using windows or skylights to brighten the room and reduce your lighting needs.

• Focus artificial light sources where they're needed. Use task lighting under cabinets, for example. And remember that pendant lights can cast shadows on work areas, no matter how bright they are.
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