You’ve probably heard the buzz about energy-efficient lighting. LED and CFL lights last as much as fifty times as long as standard incandescent bulbs, and can cost about a tenth as much. In addition, they’re great for the planet: LED lights emit a tenth of the carbon dioxide of incandescent bulbs, and contain no toxic ingredients.

We all want to save money, and we all know that green is great. But LED and CFL lighting is ugly, right? Wrong: Energy-efficient lighting has evolved. The new generation of energy-efficient lighting won’t just save you cash and save the planet, it’s also available in beautiful styles and tones that enhance any home.

But how do you know what to use where? From statement fixtures to accent lights, read on to discover ways to incorporate energy-efficient lighting in your home in a way that will actually look great. You’ll save on cost, but you won’t have to skimp on style.

LED lighting

Once prohibitively expensive, LED lighting has changed. LEDs are now a cost-effective light source that comes in a variety of beautiful tones to suit any style. Although LED light bulbs are a bit more than incandescents in terms of dollars spent at the hardware store, they only cost a tenth of what incandescent lighting does in terms of your energy bill. In fact, if you were to switch all of the lightbulbs in your home to LEDs, it’s estimated that you’d save about $300 a year in energy costs.

Because of its varied tones and shapes, versatile LED bulbs will look great in many types of home décor, from table lamps to hanging fixtures. To get the most out of LEDs, try them in the following home lighting applications.

1. Low-profile task lights

Fresnel Pendants Kitchen

Unobtrusive task lighting is an important way to illuminate work areas such as kitchen counters and desks. LED lights’ small size makes them perfectly suited for the task. To light your way while you’re preparing meals or reading recipes, try an LED tape light to brighten your counter spaces, instead of those bulky tape lights.

2. Heat-efficient recessed lights

LED Recessed Kitchen

Because of their flattened form and long life, LED bulbs are a perfect choice for recessed lighting. LED fixtures can be recessed more deeply, cutting down on glare; their small size also means that the housings that contain them will significantly cut down on air leakage problems.

3. Long-lasting accent lights

LED Step Light

Since LED bulbs last about 40 times as long as incandescents, they’re a great choice for hard-to-access accent lighting features. Use LEDs in your home’s step lights, wall lights, undercabinet lights, and picture lights. Even if they stay on twenty-four-seven, you’ll only need to change them out every six years.

4. Unique decorative lights

Bingo Living

The low-profile form of LED lightbulbs is another great feature, as it allows you to decorate with style-conscious fixtures designed without the constraint of a large, round bulb. We love the Bingo LED fixture (pictured above), which features etched diffusers that are easy to change out and create a punchy accent in both modern and traditional homes.

CFL lighting

Like LEDs, CFL fixtures are lower-maintenance and more energy efficient than traditional incandescents. In the past, CFL bulbs have gotten a bad rap for their odd spiral shape and chilly light. Additionally, because CFL bulbs contain mercury, they’re not great for the environment, and must be disposed of at a waste facility rather than in the garbage.

However, CFLs aren’t all bad, and compared to incandescents, they’re positively terrific. CFL bulbs last approximately seven times as long as incandescent bulbs, use a fraction of the energy, cost less than a quarter as much on your electricity bill, and are inexpensive to buy. If you opt for CFL lighting, make sure to check out these tricks for making them look terrific:

5. Choose a warm color temperature


The one upside to incandescent bulbs is their soft, yellowish light. With warm-color CFLs, you can get the warm tone of an incandescent without wasting energy. Just choose a bulb with a color temperature that is at least 2700K (Kelvins)–you can find a bulb’s Kelvin rating right on the front of the label.

6. Shop for CFL-specific fixtures


Since CFL bulbs emit light and heat differently than incandescents, consider buying light fixtures that are specially designed for the special bulbs. A high-quality CFL-specific fixture will optimize the light radiating from your CFL bulbs, so you can have energy-efficient lights without losing an ounce of style.

7. Try diffused glass shades

Eclipse Pendants Bath

Light fixtures with an etched glass shade are a beautiful way to camouflage a CFL bulb’s spiral shape. A glass or fabric diffuser shade has the added benefit of warming up the light of a CFL bulb, and will enhance home styles from traditional to modern.

All images courtesy of Progress Lighting

Do these ideas get you inspired to finally make the switch to energy-efficient light? What are your favorite looks?

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