My husband and I spent a lazy Saturday in a lighting showroom a few weekends ago. We've been working on a project to replace all the lighting fixtures in our home for a couple of years now, so we seem to spend a lot of time in lighting showrooms. But that particular Saturday was a bit special. We were finally picking out our last fixture—the overhead light in our bedroom. Sadly, this was the second time we'd had to pick out this fixture; we had bought and attempted to install a lovely chandelier in the bedroom the previous weekend only to belatedly realize that chandeliers and eight-foot ceilings don't mix. So after returns and refunds, we were at it again.

While wandering around the store and craning our necks towards the ceiling to study our options, my husband noticed an advertisement for ENERGY STAR® lighting fixtures and was immediately puzzled. How, he asked, was it possible for a light fixture to be ENERGY STAR rated?

ENERGY STAR CFL with pins at the base.


It's an interesting question, as ENERGY STAR ratings on light fixtures do seem a bit counterintuitive. After all, we typically think of residential light fixtures as just an attractive covering for the real energy user in the lighting equation—the bulb. And it is true that you can make any residential light fixture more energy efficient just by switching out your incandescent bulbs with bulbs that use less energy like CFLs or LEDs.

But ENERGY STAR lighting takes this idea a bit further, using special pin-based CFLs that last longer than ENERGY STAR rated screw-in CFL's, meaning that you'll spend less on bulb replacement over the life of the fixture. Too, ENERGY STAR light fixtures pay careful attention to efficient light disbursement, meaning that these fixtures will provide more even lighting where you want it. Many are also dimmable or include other special features, like motion sensors or automatic shut-off in daylight, to further help you reduce your lighting energy use. And the best part is that ENERGY STAR lighting comes in any number of attractive choices to match almost any décor.

If you're considering replacing your indoor or outdoor home lighting, you might want to give an ENERGY STAR fixture a shot. The ENERGY STAR Web site has more information on the benefits of ENERGY STAR lighting as well as a product listing. You can also see a selection of some of the ENERGY STAR rated lighting styles available.

In the end, my husband and I didn't buy an ENERGY STAR lighting fixture. I fell in love with another fixture first. But we did buy enough CFLs to fill the new fixture. And now that we've finished the lighting remodel inside the house, we're ready to shop ENERGY STAR for our exterior lighting.

Amy Foster Parish is on staff with the Washington State University Extension Energy Program and answers inquiries through the EERE Information Center.