This is one of the easier changes you can make. Rather than leaving a light on when you exit a room, simply switch it off. The less time you spend with the lights on, the more energy you save. A normal bulb will use 60 watts of energy an hour, meaning that you could conserve nearly 22,000 watts of energy per year by just switching off one bulb for one hour every day. That’s enough energy to power your television for a month. Also try to consider how many lights you need on, or if you need one on at all. Is a lamp really necessary in a sunlit room? Do you need three separate sources of light in your kitchen? By making small changes like this you’ll soon be saving energy and money.
According to the Energy Information Agency, the nation currently relies on coal - the dirtiest of all fossil fuels - for 50% of its electricity production. Natural gas makes up about 21%, and nuclear power comprises about 20%. Hydro and oil each contribute a bit as well, while traditional renewables - wind, solar, biomass and geothermal - ring in at only 3% combined.
Solar Tubes are alternatives to skylights that can provide natural light at no cost to you or the environment. A solar tube lighting system captures light through a dome on the roof and channels it down through an internal reflective system. This tubing is far more efficient than a traditional drywall skylight shaft, which can lose over half of the potential light. The tubing will fit between rafters and will install easily with no structural modification. At the ceiling level, a diffuser that resembles a recessed light fixture spreads the light evenly throughout the room.
For over 100 years we've lit our homes with what are called "incandescent" bulbs. These are the pear shaped bulbs you're used to seeing around your home. The problem is, they are incredibly inefficient. Only 5% of the energy supplied to them is converted into light. Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, or CFLs, are basically a smaller version of the fluorescent bulbs you see on the ceiling of your school or office. CFLs use 75% less electricity then traditional incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Are they more expensive? Yes... around $4 a bulb, but the investment will pay for itself 10 times over during the life of the bulb. If you're looking to green your home this is about as easy as it's going to get! Just buy CFLs over traditional next time you need to replace a few light bulbs.
Replacing normal light switches with dimmer switches is another great way to save energy. Dimming your lights an average of 50% can cut your electric use by 40% over time and make your bulbs last 20 times longer. They also give you the ability to dim the lights at night to let you adjust to the exact amount of light you need.