There are all sorts of ways to make your home green, from implementing recycling to building with reclaimed, renewable, and sustainable materials to bringing in products like organic food and clothing and environmentally safe cleaning solvents. And of course there are always the earth-friendly benefits of energy-star appliances and low-flow toilets. But did you know you could be seeing green every time you open your eyes by outfitting your house with environmentally sound lighting solutions? And there may be more than you think.
- Natural lighting is the easiest way to go earth friendly and save on your electric bill. If you live in a climate that offers a lot of light (long, sunny days), then you have no excuse not to take advantage of it. Invest in some large windows and an open floor plan (and don’t forget skylights) to fill your home with the beauty and splendor of natural light.
- Candles are another option to avoid soaring utility bills. And if you use homemade, it can do double duty for the planet. The only thing to watch out for when using flame to illuminate your home is that you don’t leave candles lit all over the house, as they can pose a serious fire risk when left unattended.
- Solar lights (or fixtures) are not only great for use in your garden; they can also be an excellent indoor alternative. Simply leave them in a sunny spot during the day, and then post them around your house as a substitute for lamps. There are even floating solar lights that can offer a lovely centerpiece in place of candles.
- Energy-star CFLs (compact fluorescent bulbs) are far and away the best option for people who are on the fence about going green. If making changes to your home seems too expensive or not worth the hassle, you really can’t go wrong with these eco-friendly bulbs. Not only will they cut your energy bill, they last longer than normal light bulbs. Most companies claim that each one can save you up to $30 over the life of the luminary (which definitely offsets the slightly steeper initial price-point). Bonus: they fit in standard fixtures.
- LEDs (light emitting diodes) run on the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material, and since they do not rely on heating a filament to produce light, they require far less electricity to run. The can also last up to 60 times longer than traditional lighting. The only problem? They’re not very bright, putting out about a maximum of 35 watts and making them unsuitable as a main light source. However, they provide excellent supplemental lighting or an ambient feel for your home (and manufacturers are working to provide higher-watt equivalents).
But these are just a few options. If you’re really gung ho, you can always install solar panels to get your whole house running on the cleanest green energy available, invest in a sunlight-transport-device that uses fiber optic filaments to collect sunlight and stream it indoors, or simply go to bed when it gets dark (it doesn’t get much more old-school than rocking a caveman’s sleep cycle). Anyway you look at it, you can save money and the environment through eco-friendly illumination.