toh contractor tom silva discussing efficiency of a wall sconce with homeowner
Photo: Keller + Keller

The Truth About Efficient Lighting

Like all remodelers, Joe and Becky Titlow, owners of the This Old House TV Bedford project house, wanted their house's new lighting to complement its style. "We also needed to cut energy use," says Becky, not just to save money but also to meet a state code requiring 50 percent of lighting in any remodel (and new construction) to be energy efficient. It's a common challenge, as some 20 states have adopted or are adopting similar codes.

The Titlows soon found that shopping for energy-efficient lighting is a herculean research project these days. As incandescent bulbs disappear from store shelves, the bulbs that are replacing them have changed dramatically in the past few years. To get a better grasp on their options, the Titlows turned to lighting designer Susan Arnold of Wolfers Lighting in Allston, Massachusetts. We spoke to her, and a few other experts, to examine the pros, cons, myths, and realities surrounding this latest generation of lighting. Here's an incentive to keep reading: Joe and Becky's choices may slash their lighting energy bill by as much as 60 percent.

Shown: TOH general contractor Tom Silva places a wall sconce above the fireplace in the new family room. "We're using CFLs in these fixtures," says homeowner Joe Titlow.

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