How to Use Fluorescent Lighting Strategically

Switching from incandescent to fluorescent lights is a no-brainer environmentally, but the light can be unflattering. Here's how to work it.

Don't use fluorescents in your bathroom. Or any other place where you might find yourself scrutinizing every blemish and gray hair. Spare yourself.

Do use them for tasks. Consider using fluorescent bulbs in the kitchen as task lighting over areas where you tend to slice and dice, or over the sink you use to wash dishes.

Try indirect lighting. Direct lighting creates a harsh, glaring light (think of the tube lights on your office ceiling). Instead, use fluorescents on top of tall cabinets or bookshelves -- the light bounces off the ceiling to create a soft, even look throughout the room.

Use as accent lights. Accent lighting is perfect for highlighting objects on a shelf or niche. Softer light works better (400 lumens or less) for this.

Consider LED. LED bulbs last over 10 years -- 25 times the life of an incandescent and several times the life of a fluorescent. LEDs also produce a “warmer" light than fluorescents and come in fun colors perfect for accent lighting. Several companies have come out with dimmable LEDs pricing around $40-$50 per bulb -- which pays for itself over the lifetime of a bulb.

Nestpert: Rick Canney is registered in Arizona as an Electrical, Mechanical, and Control Systems Engineer.

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