With the government relaxing the laws on self-building next month, crafting your own home from scratch has never been easier or more appealing.

Keeping costs down and creating a home you’ll want to live in is all down to careful planning, so we’ve put together a series of posts outlining the things all self-builders need to think about before home-making. First up, lighting.

What you need to know

Lights are essential to creating a positive, relaxed experience in the home, and they’re also key to sustainability, consuming a large chunk of your electrical costs and energy output. So where do you start when planning a new lighting set-up?

Efficiency

The best type of home lighting is? you guessed it –  The sun. When working with your architect, optimise your plans to take in the maximum natural light. It’s free and full of Vitamin-D. But beware of adding too many windows to your home; even triple-glazed windows are poor insulators compared to walls.

Part of the joy of self-building is self-sufficiency. Today, it’s possible to power lamps and smaller lighting systems using specially adapted solar grids, mounted on external walls and roofs. Paired with efficient light bulbs, these are the next best thing to natural light in the home. And solar power shouldn’t only be applied to lighting; consider adding other electrical appliances to your solar rig to make the high up-front cost worthwhile.

Go low

The ban on old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs came into force in 2009, with new homes requiring halogen or other low energy equivalents. While the cheapest low energy bulbs can be disappointingly dim and take time to warm up, bright, eco-friendly alternatives are available, although often at a higher initial cost. LED (Light-Emitting Diode) set-ups are up to 90% more efficient than incandescent bulbs, are dimmable, durable and reach full brightness almost instantly. Compact fluorescent bulbs are the type you screw into standard fittings, lasting up to eight times longer than incandescent bulbs, but use as little as one-seventh of power. Like LEDs, they also generate far less heat than the old-fashioned alternatives. Finally, halogen lamps also use standard fittings, generating a warm luminosity with increased efficiency over incandescent types.

Find the right tool for the job

Before designing your lighting set-up, ask yourself what the lights in each room need to do. Are they to generate a warm glow? Do they need to darken when you’re watching a film, or provide a nightlight-style glow when walking across landings at night?

Think about function:
Plan your lighting room by room with functionality in mind.

Do they need to perform a strictly functional role? in a garage for example –  Lighting types differ by warmth (colour), warm-up time, dimmability and intensity? so it’s worthwhile considering each factor for each room in your new home.

How do they look?

Colour-free lights create a glow somewhere on the spectrum from white to yellow. Ask yourself which rooms need softer and which need harder lighting. Where do you need bright, directional light for preparing food, for example?
In these situations, spotlights or strip lights may be useful.

Control

Today, it’s possible to control your heating, doors, wi-fi and electrical usage from a phone or tablet. Lighting is no different. With DTES? help, we can set up lighting schemes controlled by your smart device. For those with restricted mobility or parents looking to control their children?s light usage, managing your lighting from a smart device can be a real boon ? and it need’?t cost the earth. If you’re sticking to standard wall-fitted switches, carefully consider where the switches and wiring need to be. Next to the entrance you use most often is always a good first position. Alternatively, do away with controls altogether using a motion-activated system. This will detect your presence in a room and turn lights on or off accordingly.

Maintenance

Finally, consider how much time you?re willing to spend updating or servicing the fittings in your new home. LED and compact fluorescent bulbs have much longer lives than the incandescent bulbs of old. Halogen bulbs tend to be less durable. Could you use halogens for areas of your home which only need occasional lighting, and alternative types for the lights you use every day.