The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has launched the first interactive website to help homeowners, contractors and builders choose the right light bulbs, fixtures and controls to maximize energy savings, calculate lighting costs and achieve lighting effects to meet a wide range of needs in their homes. It also shows how to design safe, healthy lighting for aging adults.
The site, Lighting Patterns for Homes , helps homeowners and others navigate the increasing number of lighting options in today’s marketplace and allows them to see how various options will actually look by viewing photo-realistic illustrations created by 3-D modeling software.
Visitors to the LRC’s new website can learn the different ways to light a room, such as a kitchen or living room; compare the benefits of various lighting technologies and equipment, including LEDs; and find out how to use different lighting techniques, such as task lighting or accent lighting.
The site also includes an interactive economic calculator to determine how much money consumers can save with a new lighting design, along with initial costs, payback period, energy savings and pollution reduction.
In addition, site visitors can learn how to upgrade incandescent bulbs to newer technologies, which is important now that new Federal lighting standards are raising the energy-efficiency requirements of light bulbs to help the U.S. decrease electricity use.
As the large generation of Baby Boomers ages, they need more light to see well. Lighting Patterns for Homes has tips to help seniors see better, avoid falls and sleep better, including ways to avoid shadows and glare with lighting.
“This groundbreaking tool demonstrates the innovation that is driving development of New York State’s clean-energy economy under Governor Cuomo,” says Francis J. Murray, Jr., President and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which funded the LRC project. “The Lighting Research Center has once again proven itself to be a leader in the energy-efficient lighting industry. This site is a great resource for all New Yorkers who want to learn how to reduce their energy costs through lighting measures.
The Lighting Patterns for Homes  website was designed for homeowners, building managers, builders, efficiency contractors, and others who select lighting for residences but would not typically hire a lighting professional. It can also be useful to people who own or work at lighting retail and home improvement stores to help customers choose the best lighting products.
Lighting designs are provided for 36 of the most common single- and multi-family residential rooms and spaces, including living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, home offices, bedrooms, basements, bathrooms, entries, hallways, and exteriors. The rooms are shown both with traditional lighting and with 134 improved lighting designs.
The designs were created by the LRC's professional lighting designers, and all of the improved designs provide the same or better lighting quality than traditional lighting, almost all use less electricity, and many provide economic payback within several years. Despite having much information to offer through lighting designs and guidance, the website is easy to navigate with a clean, visually-driven interface.
The authors of the new website are Jeremy Snyder, LRC Director of Energy Programs; Jennifer Brons, LRC research scientist; and Russ Leslie, LRC Associate Director and lead author of The Lighting Pattern Book for Homes, first published in 1993, the original book upon which the new website is based.
“Designed in the spirit of traditional architectural pattern books, the LRC’s new website gives model designs and components of designs that can be adapted to each individual’s own building and style,” says Leslie. “It is dedicated to all those who strive to create practical homes that harmonize with, rather than deplete, our environment.”
“Many homeowners still rely on traditional incandescent lighting, even though more efficient options have been available for years,” says Brons. “We hope this website helps people save energy and money with improved lighting, and also prepare for the phase-out of some conventional bulbs that do not meet the new energy-efficiency standards.”
“The LRC would like to thank NYSERDA for funding this project, and for their support and guidance throughout every phase of the project,” says Snyder.
The interactive website is available to the public completely free of charge, and no login or registration is required. It can be accessed from any computer or web-enabled mobile device at http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/patternbook .