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It’s Easy Bein’ Green – part 3

Part 3 – Natural Lighting

There are some amazing ways to light up your house without incurring any fees for electricity, especially during the day.

The easiest and most popular way is to open the shades on your windows. Opening the shades so that the daylight streams into a room is the easiest way to make the room sunny and bright. So often, people will turn on a light before they open the shades or blinds, and that just doesn’t make sense. I would suggest, however, that if your light source is on the south side of your house, or later in the day, on the west side, and it is a hot, summer day, that you keep the shades at least partially drawn. The amount you would spend to cool your house is greater than the amount you would spend on a CFL light bulb burning for a short time.

Another popular way to light a room is to install a skylight. Skylights can save 75-80% on your lighting energy bill. Skylights are rectangular horizontal window-like structures that are installed in the ceiling/roof. They can take many forms, including the roof lantern, which is a multi-paned glass structure that sits atop a typically flat roof in order to provide natural light into the room below, or the Oculus, which is a circular window installed in the ceiling/roof. The roof lantern and the oculus, as well as the standard wood-framed skylight have had historical issues with leaking and condensation, so take care to ensure proper installation of newer models.

In the same idea as the oculus, there is a newer product on the market called a solar tube. The solar tube is installed through the roof/ceiling and lets in light to a designated area. They are very attractive, and from inside the house, they resemble typical ceiling light fixtures, and emit around the same level of lighting. They can also be retrofitted to include a light kit that can be used at night. I was with a client today, showing a house that had several solar tubes installed. I didn’t even realize right away that the electricity was off at the property, and wondered why it worked in some rooms and not others. After further examination, I realized that I was looking at working solar tubes and they were doing a superb job of lighting the rooms in which they were installed.

A friend recently told me about a very simple type of solar tube…. Using a 2 liter bottle filled with water, and stuck into a hole in the roof. Of course, you’d have to make sure there is a tight seal, but apparently these natural “lights” put out about 50 watts of light. You can see more about it on You Tube: Bottle Lights

Whatever ways you choose to light your house, please know that you can absolutely reduce your energy usage with these simple, and often inexpensive suggestions. Happy lighting!

It’s easy bein’ green!

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