Let there be light
Once you establish
light patterns, you'll have a good idea of what you want. Then call in a professional
for a consultation. Not only can they give you a good idea of what the plan will
cost, but they also might be able to recommend less expensive ways to give you
the same or similar results. Costs can vary widely depending on where you live,
what types of products and materials you want, and the structure and construction
of your home.
"Natural lighting is going
to save you the most money," says Tom
Silva, the general contractor on the PBS series
"This Old House" and "Ask This
Old House." That's because once you've
paid for installation, you don't have to pay
Energy-efficient windows have
a special coating that blocks the sun's heat
to keep your power bills down, even as they
still let in plenty of light. You can also
add larger windows, but you must be careful.
Larger windows let in more light, but unless
you do a good job of matching them to the
house, they can throw off the proportions
of your home. "It's very important to
pay attention to the style of the house,"
Skylights have been popular
for years, and are still very much in style.
"Skylights are great," says Silva,
who says he has about a dozen in his own home.
Solar tubes are mirror-filled
tubes that mount on the roof and fit between
the joists or rafters, sending light to dark
corners. It's perfect for areas that always
seem dark, even during the day, says Silva.
If you need more light and don't want to start making
structural changes to the outside of your house (and incurring that expense),
you've still got plenty of options. Painting the room a lighter color or using
a more reflective paint can add light to dark spaces. You also can give a room,
or the entire house, a lighting makeover. Depending on how many fixtures you might
need, and what materials and choices you make, you can spend a little or a lot.
This is one area where hiring
an electrician or contractor to wire or install
your lighting can be a smart investment. Not
only will you have the peace of mind of knowing
that it's done correctly and up to code (a
real plus for your home value), but you'll
also get a pro's evaluation of what your system
can handle, and you won't risk frying wires,
starting a fire or shocking yourself in the