Lighting the Way to Savings Outdoors

June 25, 2015

After one of the longest and toughest winters on record, everyone in the Bay State is happy for summer to officially be here. Now is the time to get outdoors and enjoy our backyards, pools, and patios. With advances in technology and the availability of beautiful and energy-efficient outdoor lighting, we can enjoy these great outdoor spaces even more!

Outdoor lighting presents a few ways to make your home more efficient: light fixtures, light bulbs, and lighting controls such as timers and motion sensors.

Ratings matter

If you’re considering the best way to light your outdoor spaces, the first step is to ensure the light bulbs and fixtures you want to use are rated appropriately. This chart explains the two relevant ratings provided by accredited testing laboratories – Damp Rated and Wet Rated:


Use in

Common Applications

Check the packaging for…

Damp Rated

Covered applications that are fully protected from water, even during storms

Covered patios and porches

“Suitable for damp or wet locations”

Wet Rated

Locations where water or other liquids may drip, splash or flow on or against the electrical components of a lighting fixture

  • Decks, porches and patios
  • Exterior walls and walkways
  • Gazebos and pergolas

“Suitable for wet locations”

It’s important to abide by the rating system. Using bulbs without the appropriate rating or in the wrong applications can lead to safety issues, including electric shock. For more information on rating systems, click here.

A fixture for summer fun

Preparing for outdoor summer activity is a great time to consider swapping out your old fixtures with ENERGY STAR® certified LED fixtures. LEDs are the perfect technology for outdoor lighting, particularly at the cold temperatures we’ll inevitably encounter here in Massachusetts. While fluorescent lights (CFLs) sometimes do not perform as intended in lower temperatures, LED technology actually contains elements that allow it to perform more efficiently during the coldest winter months!

Whether you prefer to use LED or CFL technology outdoors, be sure to choose ENERGY STAR certified fixtures that:

  • Have automatic daylight shut-off and motion sensors
  • Come with a two-year warranty or longer
  • Are 75% more efficient than standard models

Looking for a few ideas on outdoor lighting to jump-start your summer? the Sponsors of Mass Save® has great deals and discounts on all types of outdoor fixtures. Click here to find great deals from retailers near you.

Decode the light bulb label

While the clean presentation and labeling of outdoor fixtures makes it easy to find the appropriate model for you, choosing the right light bulbs can be a little more challenging.

When it comes to lighting your outdoor space, the parabolic reflector — referred to on packaging as “PAR” — is the most common light bulb used outdoors. The PAR38 is especially popular, given its size and universal fit with many outdoor flood and spotlight fixtures. Post, bug, and outdoor candelabra light bulbs are also suitable for illuminating outdoor spaces.

Finding these types of bulbs doesn’t have to be a challenge—the Sponsors of Mass Save offer discounted pricing on select ENERGY STAR certified LED and CFL light bulbs rated for damp and wet use outdoors.

Now that you know how to pick the right light fixtures and bulbs for use outdoors, it’s time to light your space. Consider using a mix of decorative and utilitarian design to ensure your space is aesthetically pleasing and comfortable, but also lets you realize the full functionality of your space for the summer months. Motion sensors, timers and controls are all features that either come with certified fixtures or can be installed separately, and can help secure your property. This Old House offers more great ideas on outdoor lighting design. 

You rarely get to enjoy the sight of your backyard when it’s buried under five feet of snow. While it’s clear during the summer months, why not illuminate it with beautiful, energy-saving lights and fixtures to get an even better view?

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