Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Summertime, and the living is easy...

Well yesterday saw the summer solstice here in the northern hemisphere and together with friends and family, we celebrated by spending the day in the beautiful Ormeau Park. There was face painting, picnics, music, ice-cream (lots of ice cream) and a few games of football. All in all a fantastic day and one that got me thinking about how we value the very simple and of course free resource that is natural light.

Most people will be aware of value of light as a means to harnessing solar energy, but natural light can be an asset, even when taking solar power out of the equation. Just think about what a little bit of extra light in the evening does, from giving the kids that little bit more time to run around outside, to simply prompting you to be more active by making that walk home from work more tempting than the bus. In the summer time energy bills are significantly lower. Much of this is of course down to lower heating bills, but when you consider that you don't need to switch your lights on til very late (if at all) and certainly don't need their assistance in the morning, it does make a big difference.

Today therefore, I've decided to do a bit of a natural light inventory, going round the house to see if there are any places where light is inhibited or lacking, and seeing what can be done. For example, the pully on the blinds in the front room has been broken for a couple of months now, meaning that they don't move up and down properly. It's no big deal, we usually just pull the curtains across when we need to and have left the blind roll hanging where it is, with about 10" of cover - but I'm taking them down today to see if that makes a difference. I'll also be trimming back some shrubbery that is starting to infringe on the windows and giving them all a really good clean. In the bathroom there is only a very small window, that gets little sunlight in the evenings, meaning that even in the summer months, we sometimes have to switch the light on when giving Shuggie his bath. Obviously there is not much I can do about the size of the window, but I've been thinking about maybe giving the room a fresh lick of lighter paint (it's black tiles and grey walls at the moment) and moving some mirrors around to see if that helps bounce some of the light around.

Around the house you can also find different ways to add some some interesting filters. Simply by filling colored glass bottles with water and placing them on a window sill (away from little hands), you can generate some gorgeous patterns and shapes, that move around floors and walls as the day goes on. And of course, for those people planning to add some night lights to their garden, what better way to do this than by having solar lights charging up by day to illuminate at night. Of course, it always best to remember when buying solar lights, to consider products made with recycled plastics or minimal materials, or even those that double up as plant pots or other garden items (see this weeks recommended product) or maybe try your hand at making your own solar lamp.

These are of course just little alterations and suggestions that will hopefully save a little bit of energy. Anyone else any good tips of there own?


  1. Light see through fabrics such as scarves and mesh make much better blinds. Still lets a soft, colorful light through and can be taken down easy. You can throw them over lamps too.

  2. http://www.lighterlater.org/

    check it out