Remodeling Tips and Reviews

Going Green with Natural Lighting, LED and More

green lighting, sky lights

Sky Lights

Sky lights and the technology that allows sky lights to trap, refract, and disseminate light has become much more sophisticated since they were first developed.  Skylights are relatively easy to install and they provide a great natural source of bright light.

Solar Tube Skylights

Compared to traditional skylights, tube skylights require smaller roof openings, are less prone to leakage due to exterior flashing, and provide the greatest amount of light secondary to their highly reflective quality.  A 10-inch diameter solar tube skylight will effectively illuminate a bathroom or hallway.  For larger living spaces, you will want to use a 14-inch diameter solar tube skylight.

Lots of Windows

A home with lots of windows has a built in source of natural bright lighting.  Adding windows on the south-facing side of your home will increase your daylight, will warm your living space and potentially save you money during the winter.  However, you must consider the fact that these same windows could add to your cooling bill during the summer.

Go Green with Artificial Lighting:

Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs)

Regular incandescent light bulbs produce around 10% light, 90% heat, and typically only last for about 1,000 hours.  In comparison, CFLs are around 75% more efficient and last around 9,000 hours more than the average incandescent light bulb.  It is estimated that by switching one incandescent light bulb in your home to a CFL, you will keep approximately half a ton of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere over the bulb’s lifetime.  So, in theory, CFLs are, hands down, the clear choice over incandescent light bulbs.  One problem with CFLs, however, is that they are more difficult to dispose of than incandescent light bulbs.  This is because CFLs contain mercury inside of them which can contaminate the environment if the bulb breaks and/or is disposed of improperly.  Therefore, care must be taken when disposing of CFLs.

To dispose of fluorescent lights, including CFLs, store them safely at your home until your community has a collection for hazardous wastes.  If your community doesn’t have a hazardous waste collection program, you should be asking why.  Another way to get rid of fluorescent lights is to find a commercial recycler of lights in your area.  Most companies that handle large quantity generators will not charge you to take your fluorescent tubes and CFLs.  Additionally, you may want to check out the EPA’s Mercury-Containing Bulb Recycling Program site or the Earth 911 site for more information on disposing CFLs and other fluorescent lights.

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

green lighting led lights

LEDs are light bulbs that are considered extremely energy efficient and extremely long-lasting.  Although they cost quite a bit more than CFLs, LEDs use less energy and last even longer than CFLs.  Plus, unlike CFLs, LEDs do not contain mercury which is a major plus.  LEDs are small and extremely durable.  They are made of plastic rather than glass.  LED lights produce only light, not heat, which means lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduced air pollution.  Current problems with LED lights include their high cost, the fact that they are susceptible to overheating, and the fact that they focus light into one place rather than distributing light in a more usable mode.


Go Green with Timed Lighting:

Motion Sensors/ Timers

A simple way to reduce energy consumption is to use motion sensors and timers.  Motion sensors and timers limit the amount of time that your lights are on, saving you both money and energy.  Timers are especially great for outdoor lighting.  Timers can be programmed to come on after sunset and go off at sunrise.

Motion sensors that enable lights to come on when movement is detected have traditionally been used outdoors to deter burglars, etc.  However, they can effectively be used inside as well, especially in rooms like bathrooms.  The lights will come on when motion is detected in the room and turn off when motion ceases.