Believe it or not, the impact of dirty, dusty, insect-laden globes, diffusers, reflectors, or shades on your fixtures' light production and efficiency is enormous. So, if you're aiming for efficiency, get up there and clean them off!
For reading, place lamp alongside your shoulder, with the bottom of the shade even with your head. Extra tall lamps should be moved back 2 feet if possible. Use several lamps in a room to avoid shadows and dark areas. (One standard lamp will illuminate 40-50 square feet.) Desk lamps should focus light on the work surface and be adjustable. The light should be about 15 inches from your desktop. You generally want to position the lamp 36 inches or less from the item to be lit. Be sure your lamp is in proportion to your room and furniture. (e.g. A small end table should hold a small lamp.) Chandeliers should hang approximately 30 inches above your tabletop and be 6 inches narrower than your table on each side.
High-color-rendering fluorescent bulbs can enhance artwork. The color rendering of a light source describes the ability to accurately render the colors of perceived objects and people. Generally, the higher a light source's Color Rendering Index (CRI) number, the better the lamp will make things appear.
Decorate with pale colors on walls, ceilings and floors. Soft tones reflect more light, so you can use lower wattage bulbs and delay turning on lights until later in the day. Using high-gloss paint can help as well.
If you are installing new shop lights or positioning a workbench in your shop, a simple test can help you find the position for best illumination. Hold a pencil or dowel vertically, then check for shadows. Reposition your set-up to reduce shadows as needed. If you have strong shadows on one or more sides, consider buying more lights.
Brightening up your workplace will make work easier and cut down on mistakes and mishaps. To free your benchwork of glare and shadows use two 48-in. tubes in a utility fluorescent fixture, centered over the front edge of your workbench, 48 in. above the work area. For extra light to see details, consider portable halogen worklights. Tripods for these lights makes it easy to put light where you need it. Also consider clamping lamps with a 50-watt reflector bulb near task areas like vises and drill presses.
Turn off the lights in any room you're not using, or consider installing timers, photo cells, or occupancy sensors to reduce the amount of time your lights are on.
Consider three-way lamps; they make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light is not necessary.
Consider using 4-watt mini-fluorescent or electro-luminescent night lights. Both lights are much more efficient than their incandescent counterparts. Also, the luminescent lights are cool to the touch.
If you have torchiere fixtures with halogen lamps, consider replacing them with compact fluorescent torchieres. Compact fluorescent torchieres use 60% to 80% less energy and can produce more light (lumens) than the halogen torchieres.