Sustainable lighting design tips

by | Jun 1, 2023 | Building tips, Home design, Sustainable homes

We all want to lessen climate change impacts and cut down on energy bills and the lighting industry is aware of this, offering more sustainable lighting choices for consumers. You may be surprised just how many different types of lighting fixtures and types there are out there, each with its distinct advantages and disadvantages. Let’s shed light on the most sustainable lighting designs for your new home.

What to consider when planning energy-efficient lighting?

When it comes to planning energy-efficient lighting, there are a few factors in the design process. With a little consideration and planning, your lighting will have increased productivity and sustainability.

Look, function and fitting selection

The best choice of lighting will depend on the environment you’ll be installing your light and what is known as task lighting. This term refers to choosing the best size, fit and installation location for each room that will best achieve the desired task. For example, what you want from your bathroom light will be a lot brighter than the light in your alfresco area, not to mention a different size of the area. The most sustainable lighting fixtures are the ones that achieve the most in the area they’re installed in.

Consider the most energy-efficient options for your home.

Consider what it is you want from each of your lighting choices. For example, in the entertainment area, you may want a well-lit ambience, whereas in the bathroom you might want something brighter. It’s also worth considering where you’ll be using lights the most and when. Rooms like the living areas and bedrooms that will be lit more often are the ones you should prioritise in making energy efficient as possible.

Make the most of natural lighting.

Natural lighting simply means daylight from the sun, which if you design your home well, can be a huge energy-saving cost for you. The better your home makes the most of natural lighting, the lower your carbon footprint and energy bills.

Buy from eco-friendly manufacturers

For lighting fixtures, it’s worth looking into companies or supply chains that are committed to using sustainable materials including reclaimed wood, recycled glass, recycled materials, repurposed materials and natural materials for their products. Recycled packaging is another detail to look out for.

Install your lights in locations that best suit your space

Where you install your lights, and how far apart you place each fixture, will have a huge influence on how well they will illuminate your home. A well-placed light is something most people take for granted, however, a properly placed one will be noticed by everyone. This is something to address with your building designer or builder, as getting this right will make all the difference in the long run.

Comparing the different light-fitting options

There is a wide range of lighting options on the market, so much so that is can be a little overwhelming. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular lighting types available.

Pendant light fittings

Pendant light fittings are roof lights that hang down from the roof. They can be a stylish look, however, your ceiling will need to be high enough to accommodate them and avoid banging your head.


  • Great for avoiding excessive overhead lighting: In certain rooms, you’ll want a warm ambience, rather than have the place light up like a supermarket.
  • Come in a wide range of styles: For anyone looking to make a bold, distinct statement with their lighting, pendant light fixtures have a range of styles and sizes.


  • An acquired taste: Some people consider pendant light fittings old-fashioned, and the style doesn’t suit every home decor.
  • May not provide enough lighting: Pendant lighting can be limited in their reach, so may not work somewhere like in an office space or where you need bright lighting.

Sconce light fittings

A sconce light is auxiliary lighting installed on the wall. Though not ideal as the main source of lighting for larger rooms, they’re great for additional lighting, or to provide light to areas like hallways, near front doors or outside areas like verandahs. Sometimes the terms wall-light and scone lighting are used interchangeably, but the technical difference is wall mounted lights are usually encased whereas sconce lights are not.


  • Great for creating atmosphere: Good for outside entertaining areas or for a secondary option inside.
  • Good for outside areas: Great for when you need to go outside at night.
  • Can work in tight spots: For specific areas, like near the door where you put your keys and shoes, it can provide enough light to see what you’re doing without lighting up the whole home.


  • Need precision when installing: When installing a wall light, you need to get the right height for them to be effective.
  • Not ideal for lighting large rooms: Usually sconce lights won’t provide enough light for a bigger area.

Strip LED light fittings

Strip lights are long and rectangular in shape and are great for larger areas. LED technology is in demand due to it being energy efficient, durable and better for the environment.


  • Efficient Energy Consumption: Estimated to be between 80-90% less energy consumption.
  • Non-toxic components: LED lights don’t contain toxic elements like other light options do.
  • Safer: Only 5% of energy is converted to heat, compared to other lighting options where up to 90% of light can be turned into heat.
  • Longer Lifespan: Can last put to 25 times longer than traditional light bulbs.


  • More expensive upfront.
  • Strip lights might overwhelm smaller rooms.

Spotlight fittings

Spotlights are numerous lights connected by an exposed rail on the ceiling or as a recessed light. When used well, they can be a stylish addition to your home.


  • Small size: numerous smaller lights provide adequate lighting for a room.
  • Flexibility with angles: The ability to move the angles of the light offers you flexibility with your arrangement.
  • Distinct, stylish look: Spotlighting has a distinct look with the right decor,


  • Small lighting range.
  • Struggle to illuminate at close range.
  • Can accumulate a lot of heat.

Track light fittings

Track lighting involves an installed track onto which lights can be installed. Invented in the sixties, track lighting is popular for its versatility and stylish look.


  • Great for highlighting elements of a room: This includes furniture, pictures and features.
  • Easy to install: Compared to other options, they’re easy to install and make changes to.
  • Many different styles: The tracks can usually accommodate a range of lights, even from different brands.


  • Won’t light the entire room: Track lighting is more of a style choice than a practical one. You’ll need another light source to provide adequate lighting.
  • Can look clunky: When done well, track lighting can look great, but it can also look clunky when executed poorly.

How to maximise the use of natural light in the home?

  • When designing your house, make sure you have the correct orientation for your home. Click on the link below to find out more about house orientation
  • Make sure nothing is obstructing your windows, both from the inside and outside.
  • Use an open-plan layout for your home.
  • Carefully consider where you place your windows.
  • Following on from the above point, think about where and when you want to make the most of natural light.
  • Consider installing Venetian blinds, plantation shutters or other types of blinds that easily let in light.
  • Design your outdoor area to make the most of the sun and cool breezes, making it a perfect area for entertaining and hanging out.

Energy-efficient lighting controls

Beyond the light bulbs themselves, let’s consider what features to include in your lighting system to ensure your light fixtures are as energy efficient as possible.

Occupancy detectors

Occupancy detectors sometimes called motion sensors, use ultrasonic technology to detect when a person approaches, therefore activating the light. You’ll have seen them light up the front of people’s houses or in educational facilities and office buildings when you enter an empty room. After a certain amount of time, the light will then automatically turn off. Occupancy detectors help minimise the chances of lights being left on and help with efficiency. It’s possible for sensors to be triggered by animals and other movements, but usually, there will be an option to turn off the lights completely.

Networked lighting controls

Networked lighting controls refer to a technological system including connectivity, Bluetooth, sensors, timers and wireless controls to create a network for your lighting. This means all your lighting will connect and you can control it through a centralised device, such as remote, wall-mounted controls, or apps. Very common in office lighting, this

With the advancement of smart technology, you can even operate lights through your phone, tablets and laptops from within the house and from different locations. You also have the option of connecting with other networks in your home such as the air-conditioning, security, garage door and more.

From an eco-friendly perspective, network lighting controls can help you control your lighting’s brightness, and when they turn on, as well as provide you updates about usage and required maintenance.

Dimmer control

Dimmers control the brightness of the light bulbs. By reducing the lights, you can extend their life cycle and save energy as when the lights are at their brightest, they’re also at their highest energy usage point. Most dimmers are very easy and instinctual to use and are great for mood lighting such as when you’re having a party or a movie night.

What are the most energy-efficient light bulbs?

LED bulbs (Light emitting diodes) are the most energy-efficient light bulbs on the market, with the advantages including:

  • They use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs
  • Their lifespan is 3 to 5 times longer than a CFL light bulb and 30 times longer than incandescent lighting.
  • LED lights emit less heat than other types of lighting.

Technology is constantly evolving with LED lights which means their energy efficiency is constantly improving.

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