The “Ask a Builder” series is dedicated to answering some of the many questions Fairbanks residents have about building, energy and the many other parts of home life.

We may not turn on our lights very often in the summertime here in Fairbanks, but we certainly rely on them to get us through the dark winters. The constant need for lighting in the winter, and for rainy days, makes a little investment in the right light bulbs go a long way. But how do you know what lights are the best for you and your home?

CCHRC and GVEA will be offering two classes on lighting in Fairbanks for homeowners and builders this coming May. On May 11, Rob Hill, of Genesis Energy Systems, ( will talk about the Economics of Best Value Lighting Systems. He will go beyond simply considering which lights are the most energy efficient by covering other metrics such as light levels, reduced maintenance, safety and controls. To help attendees see the relationship between these variables, he will discuss different lighting scenarios with the help of a residential lighting model. He will also cover the latest products, controls and trends in the lighting industry.

A week later, on May 18, Elizabeth Johnston, of Design Alaska, LLC, will cover Lighting Design in Alaska. She will introduce interior and exterior design considerations for both new houses and retrofits and will present case studies of completed lighting design for existing buildings in Alaska. Students will get a first-hand look at one of these, as she designed the lighting for CCHRC’s building addition, where the class will be held.

To register for the classes, which both run for two hours from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the CCHRC building, contact CCHRC at or 450-1762. The classes cost $35 each, or $60 for both. CCHRC members receive a discount price of $25 each, $45 for both. CEU certificates are included. Please register before May 6.

If you are interested in efficient lighting for your own home, and unable to attend the classes, consider joining CCHRC staff for one of our free building tours this summer. The tours cover more than efficient lighting, including the various heating systems in the building, wall systems, foundation technologies, wastewater treatment, research projects and prototype homes in Alaska communities. Tours are offered the second Thursday of the month at 2 p.m. Summer dates are May 12, June 9, July 14, and Aug. 11.

Another option for information about lighting and other tips for reducing electricity use, is Golden Valley Electric Association’s Home$ense audit program. Through the $19.95 program, an energy auditor visits your home to discuss ways to reduce your electrical usage and energy costs. To sign up, call the member services department at GVEA at 458-4555 or visit

Ask a Builder articles promote home awareness for the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC). If you have a question, contact us at or 457-3454.