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Is Recessed Lighting Affecting Your Home’s HVAC Efficiency?

Is Recessed Lighting Affecting Your Home's HVAC Efficiency?As unobtrusive and useful as they are, recessed lights could be driving up your cooling bills, whether or not they’re on. Checking them out, even if it means a trip to the attic, could save your energy dollars.

Recessed, or can lights as they’re sometimes called, protrude into the attic and they might not be sealed or insulated. The air you’ve paid to cool will quickly escape through them, or the hot temperatures inside the attic will travel through the fixtures and into the air of the room. For the most part, air leaks are fairly easy to spot and, if they’re not visually obvious, feel.

The second way these lights undermine home cooling is through a phenomenon called thermal bridging. Heat is always traveling toward cooler temperatures. While it can’t be stopped, it can be slowed by having adequate insulation in the attic.

When you have recessed lights protruding into the attic, often they’re not covered with insulation, or if they are, there is a gap between the housing and the insulation, which serves as a place for hot air to enter and infiltrate downward.

Solutions to Cut Energy Losses

  • Seal the air leaks around the fixtures. Expanding foam rated for use around electrical fixtures will stop the leaks. Before using, take all the precautions listed on the can that the manufacturer requires. Some types of expanding foam are flammable.
  • Replace uninsulated fixtures with air-tight canisters. Look for an ASTM E283 and IC rating. These fixtures can also come into contact with insulation, which will keep the heat from traveling through the ceilings.

    If you’re not comfortable working with the wiring, a licensed electrician can install the air-tight canisters for you.

  • Change the bulbs in the lights to LED, the coolest bulbs available. Even CFLs produce measurable amounts of heat.

Recessed lights are known energy-wasters and you will save energy by changing their bulbs, sealing them, and replacing uninsulated canisters with more efficient fixtures.

If you’d like more information about making these lights more efficient, contact Hansberger Refrigeration and Electric Company. We provide HVAC services for Yuma-area homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Yuma, Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about recessed lighting and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 928-723-3183.

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