Lighting design

Design your home's lighting for maximum energy efficiency by making the most of natural daylight, using energy efficient bulbs, and thinking about how you use lighting.

Maximise natural sunlight

Light-coloured walls and surfaces help maximise natural light by providing a reflective surface. Skylights and solar tube type fittings increase natural light without glare - great for rooms in houses that don't get a lot of natural light.

?Checklist for skylights and double glazing

Recessed lighting

Recessed downlights are popular in new homes, but - because of their narrow beam - you need a large number to provide even light, resulting in higher energy consumption.

Recessed downlights can also compromise your home’s ceiling insulation and thermal comfort, resulting in higher heating bills.

To mitigate these drawbacks, choose modern LED downlights that are rated IC, IC-F or IC-4. They can have compatible insulation fitted over them to keep the heat in and, in addition, offer low lighting costs.

If you already have older downlights (installed before mid-2012) and your house is insulated, ensure there is a 100mm gap between lights and insulation for safety reasons. Or better, replace them with modern LED downlights that can be insulated over.

?Downlights and insulation performance

Surface mounted and pendant ceiling lighting

Surface mounted ceiling and pendant lights (that hang down from the ceiling) are very versatile, come in a range of designs to suit ambient or task lighting, and won't compromise your ceiling insulation. The ‘flood' effect of their wide beam means they light large spaces easily, so you won't need many. Fit them with energy efficient LED bulbs for low lighting costs.

Outdoor lighting

Outdoor or security lights on manual switches are often left on for long periods. Use sensor-controlled lights for safety and energy savings. Outside lights fitted with LEDs are most energy efficient and reduce the need to climb ladders and replace failed lamps.


Dimming your lights can help you set different mood lighting and save on your electricity bill. If you have your lights on separate switches too, you can choose to dim only selected lights - ideal for providing just the right light for a specific task. There is a range of dimmable LED options available (but not all are dimmable) - check the packaging and also ensure your dimmer switch is compatible with the dimmable LED bulb.

Cupboards and pantry lighting

Use LED light sources for low energy use and low heat generation (for better fire safety). Consider using a timer controlled switch which turns the light off after a minute or so.