Automatic light switches provide easy way out for forgetful consumers

The days of needing to manually operate light switches appear to be on the way out, providing relief to individuals who persistently ignored their parents' advice to turn off lights when they were not using them.

Although the widespread use of CFL bulbs has helped consumers to reduce their energy costs by using much less power than their incandescent predecessors, homeowners can further reduce their lighting costs by taking some simple steps.

One way to do this is through the use of occupancy sensors, which can activate lights and other electronic devices automatically, depending on whether they detect heat or motion in a particular room. More advanced systems – known as manual-on switches – are turned on by a user, but they then turn off automatically.

"The good thing about this type of switch is that it doesn't turn lights on when you don't need them," according to a May 17 Mother Nature Network story. "During the day, many rooms have enough light for someone to walk through or get something they need without turning on a light, and manual-on sensors save energy by not automatically turning lights on when not needed."

Although lighting costs are far from the biggest drag on a home's energy costs – that honor is reserved for heating and air conditioning – they can still eat up a utility bill if not attended to properly. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that about 25 percent of a home's energy costs go toward lighting, so there is always room for homeowners to improve.

You can further reduce your utility costs by partnering with a energy audit provider. This Washington, D.C. home inspector should be qualified to analyze your home and offer you advice as to best energy savings practices.