Light is the source of life. The sun helps plants grow, keeps us warm, and illuminates the world around us.
But when you step inside your home, it’s up to you to make sure things don’t go dark.
Keeping a house well-lit can be expensive. There’s the stylish fixtures, the light bulbs, and of course the electric bill.
But you don’t need a fancy chandelier to help you read those way-too-high bills. Affordable lighting is achievable with a few simple steps.
Read on to learn how to light up your house without lighting your wallet on fire.
Keep Things Functional
Getting down to basics, the purpose of lighting your house is so that you can see.
To save money on lighting, you can adopt a functionality-over-everything mentality. You don’t need to buy expensive light fixtures to illuminate your home.
You may not get to have the fancy decor you might want. But for those on a tight budget, being practical with your lighting should take priority.
Lighting Where You Need It
Not every corner in every nook of your home needs to be fully lit up.
If you want affordable lighting, sticking to key spots is a great way to save money on both equipment and electricity.
Where do you usually work? You’ll want good light on places like your kitchen countertop and office desk.
If you have a comfy chair that you like to read in, a bright lamp that helps you see the pages would be a good idea.
Other areas simply don’t need as much light. If that reading chair is in a den, you don’t need to light up the whole den. Only the area that you read in needs great coverage.
Your bedroom is meant to be a place to sleep. You sleep with the lights off, after all. Why install light fixtures that cover 100% of the room when you might only need a small bedside lamp?
Even some high-traffic areas like a hallway don’t need to be entirely lit up. You should be able to see where you’re going. But odds are you aren’t going to be reading a book while standing in the middle of that hallway.
By being strategic with your light placement, you can optimize functionality and save money thanks to your more affordable lighting.
Mobility and Flexibility
Sometimes areas of your house need more light at certain times, but not permanently.
Having a collection of portable, affordable lighting options gives you the versatility to temporarily light your house according to your needs.
These are the battery powered portable lights that turn on when you press down on the top.
These are small, easy to carry, and are often sold in bundles of 3 or 4 for less than $20. You can lay them down around the house, or you can mount them on walls or even ceilings with peel-and-stick adhesive.
These lights often come with adjustable necks and stay in place by clamping down on the edge of a table or other surface.
The clamp makes them very secure, so they can almost act as a mounted permanent fixture. But moving or repurposing them is as easy as unclamping.
LED Rope Lighting
A LED rope light comes as a spool of rope would. Unroll and use as needed.
Rope lights are thin and unobtrusive. They’re very flexible and you can cut them to size. Use them as trim along your ceiling or floor, wrap them around an object, or utilize them in any number of other applications.
Be Energy Efficient
Affordable lighting for your home isn’t just about the light fixtures. You can save a lot of money on home lighting by being energy efficient.
Turn out the Lights
The obvious first step is to turn off lights that aren’t needed.
During the day, turn off all the lights in your home and open the windows. Your home will be plenty bright enough for most tasks. Plus you’ll get the benefits of natural sunlight, such as improved productivity and mood.
At night, only keep on what you need. If a room isn’t being used, turn off the light.
Do a walk-through before you leave the house or before you sleep. Make sure you leave nothing on.
Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
The types of light bulbs you have play a huge role in how much energy you use.
Incandescent bulbs have long been the most commonly used light bulb, and often they’re the least expensive. But they’re very energy inefficient.
In fact, incandescent bulbs are being phased out, thanks to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Outside of some specialty bulbs, incandescent lights will no longer be produced and will be unavailable when the last supplies sell out.
Although the up-front cost of incandescent bulbs is cheaper, people end up paying more in the long run. They need more watts, and they only last around one year. The cost comes across on your electric bill and in frequent replacements.
Although you will soon not have much choice, making the switch now to more efficient light bulbs can help make your lighting more affordable.
One option is compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). CFLs can offer an annual energy savings of 75%, and they last up to 9 years. These bulbs contain a small amount of harmful mercury, so they need to be handled with care and recycled after they stop working.
An even more efficient option are light emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs can offer up to 86% in annual energy savings and can last more than 20 years. They’re also safer, as they contain no mercury.
CFLs are cheaper than LEDs. That said, the once very expensive LED lights have dramatically dropped in price in recent years, making them even more practical.
For more affordable lighting, it’s time to switch to better bulbs.
New technology has brought about the age of “smart lighting,” another means to boost energy efficiency.
Smart lighting uses automation and wireless control to optimize the use of lights in your home.
One example of smart lighting is using natural light sensors to automatically adjust the dim for your indoor lighting. If it’s bright outside, the lights turn off. If it’s cloudy or the sun is setting, the lights brighten to compensate.
Motion sensor lighting is another part of smart lighting. If someone enters a room, the light turns on. When they leave, it turns off.
Smart lighting also integrates your home lighting with other devices. You can sync your lights with voice-activated technology like the Amazon Echo to adjust your lights with verbal commands.
Mobile apps can also let you use your phone as a remote control. You can adjust the lights from your couch, or turn them off if you leave the house and forget to flick the switch before you walked out the door.
Fancy equipment like this may not sound like affordable lighting. But there are several budget-friendly options to choose from, and more will come as the technology improves and becomes more common. Plus, you’ll save on your electric bill.
Ikea offers the TRADFRI Gateway kit for under $80. Cree also sells individual smart LED bulbs for less than $15.
If you’re forgetful or just a bit lazy, investing in smart lighting can be a good long-term affordable lighting option.
Get Your DIY On
You’ve got your functional lights with energy-efficient technology. But your affordable lighting isn’t stylish, and the HGTV star in you is itching to improve your home decor.
It never hurts to get your DIY on. There’s near unlimited possibilities to what you can do to customize your light fixtures.
You can buy a cheap brass fixture from a thrift store and spray paint it to any color you like. You can paint it black or silver to give it a more neutral, modern feel. Or you can make it colorful to match your personality.
You can turn a $10 hanging pendant light into a homemade chandelier with little more than some pieces of cardboard or plastic spoons.
Your own creativity doesn’t cost a penny. Sometimes the path to affordable lighting in your home goes right through your own head.
Watch for Sales
As always, sometimes the cheapest way to get something is to wait for some hot deals to pop up.
If there’s a particular type of light fixture you want for your home, and a DIY project just wouldn’t do it justice, be patient. See if it goes on sale.
The holidays are always a great time for sales, and the new year sometimes brings in new styles and fixtures. The thing you’ve got an eye on may get marked down to make room.
Check the local news, too. If a home furnishing store is going out of business, you could snag a great deal in an “everything must go” sale.
Affordable Lighting Is Just the Start
Saving money and living well isn’t easy. Trying to keep cash in your wallet is almost like its own full-time job.
Luckily, Thrifty Momma is here to help. Keep an eye on our Frugal Living blog for more tips on how to make your family happy and your house look amazing on a budget.