Depending on how your home is positioned, the amount of natural lighting allowed into your home can directly impact your energy usage related to heating, cooling and lighting. Augmenting indoor lighting can come from a number of eco-friendly sources. Consider your use of blinds, paint, skylights, light bulbs, and outdoor sources to help ensure that your lighting is eco-friendly and provides enough light for your task.
Use Eco-friendly Blinds in Southern Facing Rooms
Southern facing rooms will have the bulk of the day’s heat and sunlight. I find having blinds that allow in light, but block out heat are essential in my southern rooms. Blinds are the most eco-friendly tool I have during summer heat. By keeping the blinds pulled and the windows opened throughout the day and evening, I maximize cool airflow and minimize heat absorption. I also used a dark, cool colored (greens and blues) paint to enhance the sense of being cool. Skylights that open and allow air in at night my help reduce the heat, but beware how much light enters because they may bleach your carpet and furniture.
Use of Solar-powered Paint [We Wish]
Sun enters my hardwood floored entryway area to add intense light while the roof helps protect from the worst rays. When current research related to solar-powered painted surfaces become available, the entryway wall might become the best place to install a solar panel to help power our energy needs.
Use Eco-friendly Skylights in Northern Facing Rooms [see photograph 1]
Our darkest room is our kitchen. By adding an eco-friendly skylight in the kitchen, we’ve minimized the amount of time we have the lights on in the kitchen. Skylights are expensive. We installed ours when we finally had to re-roof our house. Eco-friendly hidden fluorescent lighting in the ceilings allows us to maximize light.
Use Eco-friendly Fluorescent Lighting in Work Areas [see photograph 2]
Our basement area and garage are dedicated to work. Because working with tools requires a great deal of light, shop lights with fluorescent light bulbs help cut the cost of doing projects. We don’t care that they look less attractive because no one sees them.
Use Eco-friendly Alternative Bulbs to Augment Night Time Light [see photograph 3]
Two light bulb alternatives to traditional light bulbs have a more eco-friendly signature – led light bulbs and compact fluorescent light bulbs. Both of these alternatives fit into your light bulb sockets but last longer and emit more light. We tried the compact fluorescent lighting in dark rooms and weren’t very pleased with the results. Where they worked the best for us was in outdoor light fixtures, which weren’t used for reading, and could work as a low-cost night-light for stumbling your way to the toilet. They also provide pleasing results in wall sconces and in floor lamps where they augment light rather than provide a direct source. I haven’t tried the Led light bulbs, so can’t report on how well they work, yet.
Warning, if you use the compact fluorescent light bulbs, handle them with care as they break easily and contain mercury.