Stylish Energy Efficient Bathroom Lighting

Energy codes and utility bills are making energy efficient bathroom lighting a must, even in today's spa-like baths. Lighting fixtures now hitting the market are functional and fashionable.
Stylish_Energy_Efficient_bathrk_2

Stylish_Energy_Efficient_bathrk_2

By: Judith Stock

Today's super-sized bathrooms aren't the Spartan spaces they once were, and luxury has become a guiding principle for designers of present-day spa retreats. However, practicality is beginning to rule at least one crucial aspect of current bath design: Highly efficient lighting fixtures are taking fashionable form among steam showers and soaking tubs.

Making From Follow Function

The key to a successful bathroom illumination plan is to understand the various functions lighting serves in the space. General lighting takes care of 90 percent of bathroom lighting needs, like ceiling lights, soffits and wall sconces. Task lighting delivers the remaining 10 percent and is used to perform specific activities like personal grooming.

"To face the day, you need to see the same image in the mirror as you would outside in daylight," says Martha Kerr, certified master kitchen and bath designer for the Neil Kelly Company in Portland, Ore.

In the past, meeting these different needs posed a challenge for bath designers, who overwhelmingly chose incandescent fixtures over more efficient fluorescent versions.

"As an industry, we tried to avoid using fluorescent lighting," says Bruce Goff, American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), principal of Domus Design Group in San Francisco and Reno. "They buzzed, flickered and glared. We couldn't dim them and we didn't look good in that greenish cast."

However, with energy prices rising and states like California beginning to mandate efficiency in their building codes, manufacturers have been forced to address designers' concerns. A 2005 rewrite of California's energy code requires the first switch in a room to control a fluorescent fixture. Also, a full 50 percent of all lighting be energy efficient, according to Goff.

In response, today's fluorescent fixtures feature dimmable ballasts, accurate color representation, cool white and full spectrum colors, along with higher quality materials and innovative design styles. Now, Goff tells his clients that fluorescents can deliver beautifully lighted rooms and keep power bills lower.

New Options on the Market

American Fluorescent Corp. is one company that's managed to fuse efficiency with award-winning design. The Waukegan, Ill.-based company has won the Lighting for Tomorrow Fixture Design Competition grand prize two years in a row.

Stylish_Energy_Efficient_bathrk_1

Stylish_Energy_Efficient_bathrk_1

"The new Helios sconce design was created for the competition," says Stephen Blackman, director of design and innovation for American Fluorescent. "People see it and they're automatically attracted because it's different than most wall fixtures with a unique shaped back plate. The scale could only be accomplished using a fluorescent bulb."

The Helios sconce has an organically inspired hand-blown diffuser with a case metal body and oil-rubbed bronze or satin nickel finishes. Used for general lighting needs in high-end residential homes, it's available in lighting showrooms in larger cities.

Blackman says "a lot of the fixtures we have in the bathroom area are contemporary, like the Fusion Vanity series." Picture a delicate droplet of water streaming down a chilled glass window. The Fusion series fits the bill for task lighting and combines the complex textural patterns of nature with the quiet simplicity of a satin metal finish.

Stylish_Energy_Efficient_bathrk_3

Stylish_Energy_Efficient_bathrk_3

Cooper Lighting in Peachtree City, Ga., is another proponent of design-friendly efficiency.

"Cooper Lighting manufactures Energy Star fixtures that meet federal requirements for energy saving," says Mark Lien, manager of the company's SOURCE Educational Center. "Our wall, ceiling and over-the-mirror fixtures with 'softsides' that resemble a pillow shape are very popular. They feature an all white lens that blends well on white ceilings and light walls without becoming a focal point."

The soft floating frameless diffuser includes a lift and shift feature for easy cleaning and bulb replacement. Lien says "another popular choice is the fluorescent downlight, a good choice for general lighting but not safe in showers where a wet-location fixture is required."

Halo, a Cooper Lighting brand, offers a full line of recessed downlights available in a variety of sizes with several lamp and trim choices, including new high-quality designer metallic finishes of satin nickel, antique copper and Tuscan bronze.

Emerging Technologies 

Fluorescents aren't the only option for bringing energy efficient lighting into the bath. Solar tubes are another choice beginning to hit the market. These products are like flexible skylights, which are installed through the roof and fit between the rafters and ceiling joists, capturing direct and ambient light. They'll even focus the light of a full moon into a space, creating an otherworldly nightlight at least once a month.

On the coming-trend list, light emitting diode (LED) lamps are making a huge splash. "I expect them to become more efficient and affordable in the future but they won't be the bulb that replaces everything else," says Blackman. "This filament-less technology will co-exist with other lamps."

Resources

American Fluorescent
www.americanfluorescent.com

Cooper Lighting
www.cooperlighting.com

Energy Star
www.energystar.gov

Keep Reading

Next Up

Use Energy-Efficient Christmas Lights

Discover why switching to LED Christmas lights during the holiday season saves energy and money.

Eco-Friendly Bathroom: 6 Ways to Go Green

Try these eco-friendly home improvement tips and enjoy a green bathroom.

Recycled Master Bathroom

See how a bathroom updo is created with eco-friendly products and recycled materials.

The Benefits of Going Green in the Bathroom

Learn how to use eco-friendly bathroom design to save energy and water, lower your utility bills and look beautiful doing it.

Elements of a Green Bathroom

See how an eco-friendly design and green bathroom products can save you energy and money.

Building an Energy Efficient Home Addition

A homeowner makes sure his retrofit of his 70-year-old home addition saves energy.

Eco-Friendly Kitchen

Designer Catherine Nakahara creates a clean, contemporary kitchen featuring bamboo cabinetry, quartz countertops and a subway tile backsplash.

Eco-Friendly Countertops

Consider these environmentally friendly countertops when designing your new kitchen surface area.

Strategies for Going Green in the Bathroom

Follow these energy- and water-conservation tips for the greenest bath around.

9 Eco-Friendly Kitchen Ideas

Give your kitchen a green makeover with these eco-friendly tips.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.