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Kitchen Light: Five Ways to Balance Sunlight and Electricity

by Susanne Clemenz

Even in the gloomiest of climates, homeowners can take advantage of the natural light when prepping meals in the kitchen. Here are five ways to minimize your use of artificial kitchen light and tap into what nature has to offer.

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The Best Kitchen Light is Sunlight

You can often prepare two to three meals a day when there's plenty of natural kitchen light. Here's how to take advantage of the sunlight:

  1. Skylights: Add a vented skylight to your kitchen ceiling. Not only will it add kitchen light, but, when open, it creates convection that helps exhaust odors and heat. Be sure to insulate its sides inside the attic or crawl space.
  2. Solar tubes: These pipe-like tubes have a domed top and fit between attic joists. They even have angled pieces in case a straight-down installation isn't possible. The tube interior is highly reflective no matter what the sun angle, and some have protection to keep the mid-day sun from getting too bright and hot. Place solar tubes over kitchen islands and primary task areas and enjoy the free kitchen light.
  3. Larger windows: Replace that tiny window over the sink with a larger one, and make sure any other windows in the kitchen or breakfast nook are as large as they can be.
  4. Pruning: If vines, shrubs, or trees obscure part of your kitchen windows, trim them so sunlight can enter your kitchen during all daylight hours.
  5. Light colors: Keep walls, cabinets, flooring, and countertops light-colored in a dark kitchen. That way, kitchen light from sun or switch can bounce around, even under cabinets.

Of course, after sundown, electricity must provide your kitchen light. Use under-cabinet lighting for bright, energy-efficient illumination.

By combining maximum sunlight with minimum electric use, you should notice a difference in your kitchen's ambiance--and your electric bill.



About the Author

Suzanne Clemenz designed her passive solar home and interacted with the contractors every day of the 6-month project. She started drawing floor plans and making models in the early '70s after purchasing several building lots. Recently she expanded and

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