009-794645Literally. We have new light from above. Check out the picture of my family room. That bright circle on the ceiling isn’t an electric light. It’s the sun! In the past couple of weeks, we’ve had three solar tubes installed in our house – two in the family room and one in the kitchen.

If you follow this blog, you know we’ve been talking about coal and electricity recently. I’d love to say that my family’s decision to install solar tubes was in response to our desire to use less electricity, less energy, less coal. And that was a consideration. But the bigger reason was more self-serving: I wanted more natural light in some of the darker areas of our house just because I like natural light. The way our house is situated, we don’t get nearly as much of it as I would choose, and I’ve always wished for more. We have considered skylights from time to time, but they always seemed too expensive and work-intensive, what with all the drywalling and painting that’s required with their addition. But then we learned about solar tubes! We could have them less expensively than skylights, and each one took only about an hour to install (done by a professional). That was it! The result is wonderful. Unfortunately, I don’t have before and after pictures, but you can get a sense of the increased light from the shadow cast by the pillow onto the arm of the couch. That most certainly was not there before.

What I love about this little anecdote is that one largely selfish act is so beneficial! By getting something I wanted – more natural light – I’m using less electricity, which reduces my use of coal, lowers the demand on the power grid, and hopefully lowers my electric bill. It also supports jobs in the “green economy,” as we purchased a solar product and paid a professional to install it. And it is another step in our household’s efforts to live more sustainably. I find it all very hopeful. Or maybe I’m just giddy from all that natural light.

-Nancy Michaelis