The first home I bought, a 1912 bungalow, was far from well lit, with classic knob and tube wiring, one light fixture per room, and completely dark closets.
I'll never forget using a flashlight every morning to pick out what I was going to wear.
Many older homes have inadequate lighting, and if that's true for your home, no doubt upgrading wiring and adding more lighting are parts of your remodeling plan. But before you start pulling wire and cutting holes in your ceiling for recessed incandescent lights and other new fixtures, consider giving the sun a shot at supplementing your future lighting scheme.
The addition of skylights, light tubes (also called sun tubes and solar tubes), and windows in key areas can help cut back on energy use and lighten up dark spots, such as hallways and closets, without having to flip a switch.
Lighting represents 5 to 10 percent of total energy use in U.S. homes, according to the National Association of Home Builders. On average, lighting costs homeowners between $50 and $150 a year--not much in comparison to other expenses. But how you light your home also affects how much you spend to heat and cool it, which account for a much larger portion of your energy costs. Incandescent light, for example, gives off heat, and recessed lights that aren't completely air tight can leak air.
Natural lighting is kind to the earth and your wallet, and it's a terrific way to brighten your home. Although you may still need supplemental lighting, there are several ways to incorporate natural lighting and improve what lighting you have.
- Put natural lighting where it works best. Kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms are good candidates for natural lighting because the addition of a venting skylight, light tube, or window can provide ventilation as well as light.
- Consider light tubes to bring passive light into hallways, closets, and powder rooms. They're generally less expensive than skylights and windows and, if you're handy, you can easily do the installation yourself. Kits can be purchased to add electricity so the tubes can be used around the clock.
- Install more efficient fluorescent lights in your kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room.
Once you let the sun into your home, it doesn't cost a penny. You'll flip your light switches less and enjoy spending time inside more.
National Association of Home Builders
The U.S. Green Building Council
About the Author
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado-based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.
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