'Red means stop, green means go' - we learn that axiom as children. When it comes to home energy costs, however, going green can help homeowners put a stop to runaway utility bills. And maximizing your home's use of natural light - call it 'green lighting' - is a great way to boost your home's energy efficiency.
Here are three ways you can put Mother Nature to work, and use natural light to lower your energy costs:
Minimize use of artificial lighting
Anyone who's ever paid an electrical bill knows that the simple act of turning on a light can directly impact your monthly expenses. Homeowners looking for a long-term way to power down their lighting costs may consider Energy Star-qualified skylights a good investment. While skylights' cosmetic appeal can't be argued, their value goes far beyond good looks.
By admitting natural light into your home, skylights can help reduce use of artificial light sources - and help you save on electricity costs. Pair powered venting skylights that come with automatic rain sensors with efficiency-enhancing accessories like designer blinds (available in a varied palette of colors and patterns), and you can improve energy efficiency as much as 37 percent, according to skylight manufacturer Velux America. And, with tubular products like Sun Tunnel skylights, you can even bring natural light into ground-floor rooms or spots where a traditional skylight may not work, such as a first-floor powder room, hallways, or walk-in closets.
Reduce hot water costs
Long gone are the days when solar powering your home was an idealistic, but impractical dream. Solar technology is more useful, accessible and cost-effective than ever. Solar water heating systems are becoming mainstream, and offer homeowners a great, green way to trim energy costs. What's more, the cost of installing these systems has been steadily declining as the technology advances, and you may find adding one makes you eligible for tax credits or incentives from your local, state or the federal governments. You can calculate the costs and possible paybacks online at www.veluxusa.com.
Make home a healthier place
Every year, ill health costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars, experts say, and your own health woes can have a significant impact on your pocketbook. The health benefits of natural light are well-documented, from reducing the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and promoting the body's production of Vitamin D, to improving mood and even learning ability.
Simply opening blinds and curtains to admit more natural light can directly affect the mood inside your home - not to mention the mental state of the people living in it. Take your green lighting efforts to a higher level by adding venting skylights, and you can also help improve the air quality inside your home. While skylights admit ample natural light, their natural chimney effect works with your windows to bring in and circulate much more healthful fresh air. They also passively vent fumes and dampness that can lead to mold and mildew.
By incorporating natural light and passive ventilation into their home decor and improvements, homeowners can put the brakes on rising utility costs - and give the green light to energy savings.