How to Design an Efficient Kitchen
Remodeling Your Kitchen
My Story: Home Remodeling
I am extremely overwhelmed by the many types of lights designed for kitchens. I am remodeling my kitchen and updating kitchen lighting. I have old fluorescent lighting, and I'm not sure what the best light is. I need a fixture for over my stove, table, and sink. I would prefer a nicer looking fixture over my table. The energy efficient lights would be nice. I'm just not sure what to go with to help brighten my kitchen.
I suggest that any new fixtures be able to use either fluorescent bulbs or the new compact fluorescent bulbs. Both come in a variety of light options. My personal favorite is the daylight variety, especially in winter. I also suggest that each fixture have a separate switch, so that only the light that is needed can be turned on. Finally, you might want to consider one of the fixtures be a fan as well. I have a small fan/light over my kitchen table and love it. No room gets hotter than the kitchen. The fan cuts down the heat without using the a/c more, which is a real cost savings.
I re-did my lights and outlets in my kitchen from an old 1950s setup. I put in recessed cans and put one over the table, one over the sink and installed all of them in a grid fashion. There is a total of 12 lights in a small kitchen so even when I stand at a counter, the light onto the counter is not blocked.
I have CFL indoor floods in them and the over-the-sink light is on a separate switch so I can use it as a nightlight. I have nice, even light in my kitchen, and since the bulbs are CFLs, they are cheap to run. And getting rid of the old, dated fixtures has made the kitchen look so much better and upped the value of the house.
The lumen per watt output is much better in a fluorescent fixture than an incandescent. However, not every application is suited for a fluorescent fixture. Budget, personal style and functionality will determine the appropriate fixture. Try to buy fixtures rated with the Energy Star label if possible. This link: www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=lighting.pr_lighting will explain more.
Additionally, many electric utilities provide incentives for lighting fixture replacements to more energy efficient models. You may want to check with your local utility as well for possible incentives to help you offset the cost of the fixtures.
Leona in Spokane, WA
In remodeling our kitchen, my husband came up with a great idea to provide ample lighting, while keeping the cost down. He put in canned recessed lights in four sets of three lights. One set is over the sink, one set is over the kitchen island where food prep occurs, one set is over the counters and stove, and one set is over the breakfast nook. We can have all the lights on when we feel like we need bright lighting in the kitchen (like when I'm preparing a meal), or we can have fewer lights on when we are just eating or doing the dishes. It's nice having the ability to light the kitchen brightly to read recipes and see the texture of food cooking on the stove. It's also a big money-savings to not have to have all the lights on when they are not needed. You can easily swap out the incandescent light bulbs for the more energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs in each of these recessed lights.
Jill in Santa Cruz, CA
We recently bought an older home that had older light fixtures in the kitchen, so I can relate to what Bonnie C. is asking about. I discovered two things in my quest to update our kitchen lighting. It's overwhelming and can be expensive.
If Bonnie can make a decision about the finish she wants in her kitchen, she's already narrowed her options. In my case, I knew I wanted to accent a beautiful mossy-green paint with silver fixtures, so that limited me to what was available.
I also discovered that I limited my options too much when I went to the "kitchen lighting" section of our local home improvement store. When I began to look outside of the kitchen area, I found a wonderful fixture for over our kitchen table with silver accents for half off! The key for me was looking at what was designed to be a bathroom ceiling fixture and realizing there was nothing on it that screamed "bathroom." I just had to think outside the box.
I also discovered that Lowe's (specifically) puts their merchandise on clearance on Saturday mornings. They save up what hasn't moved and price it down on Friday, putting it out on Saturday to be bought up by savvy consumers. That's how I got the fixture at 50% off. However, I didn't realize that it was a weekly event when I purchased the light.
As far as energy-efficiency, if you like the type of light that comes from compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), just about any regular fixture will accept CFLs. If you don't like the light quality that comes from them or are concerned by the mercury factor in them (like I am), any light fixture can be energy efficient if you turn it off when not in use.
Sue T. in Dexter, MI
We, too, are currently updating our kitchen lighting situation, which previously was a 1980s ceiling fan fixture. Pendant lighting is going over the eating peninsula/bar. Track lighting with earth-friendly fluorescents is going to be aimed where we need brighter lighting (food prep areas and sink). A few recessed can lights will be on a dimmer for each of the four corners of the kitchen. Talk with your local hardware or lighting store (not a big box store). You'll get better help.
A.W. in Tonawanda, NY
Perhaps you don't need to ditch the fluorescent fixtures, just the bulbs. I bought all new bulbs labeled "for kitchen and bath" and can't believe the difference they made! They have a barely discernible rosy glow, which makes my wood cabinets, plants, and even the food look amazing! Try it. I think you'll love the effect and save money, too.
Nancy in Santee
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