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Green design adds green to your wallet

National award winning Interior Designer, Patricia Davis Brown recommends green design to her clients. Here is her number one environmentally friendly tip, and it can also save you money.

Okay, I admit it, there was a time when I did not even think about environmentally-friendly, green design. Until recent years I had never even heard the term, green design. However, in the past decade there has been a big movement toward environmentally-friendly products for your home. Every industry is starting to get in the game and not a moment too soon. I think subconsciously everyone would like to be more environmentally friendly but is not sure how to go about it.

As a designer I feel a certain responsibility to introduce green products to my clients not only to improve the environment but their lives. Who can argue that putting toxic paint, carpet and other out-gassing finishes into our homes is healthy? It's a no-brainer to use a safer alternative.

But what about energy efficiency? What's wrong with saving the environment, especially when at the same time you can do something good for your financial well-being? So, here's my number one tip for a greener home and more "green" in your wallet.

Energy efficient lighting for green living

After the oil crisis of the 1970s the commercial sector was looking for a way to cut electric costs and add to the bottom line. Businesses began retrofitting their light fixtures with new lower wattage fluorescent tubes, and the savings was huge. The age of energy efficient lighting was born.

The lighting industry's more recent introduction of compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) bulbs allows home owners an opportunity to do the same. Most CFLs come with a lens cap that fits over the lamp to make them look just like incandescent bulbs. Much cooler than incandescents, however, these disguised CFL bulbs keep room temperatures more comfortable. Choose a compact fluorescent with a "color temperature" of 2800K to mimic the beautiful color output of the incandescent lamp.

Consume less energy for the same amount of light

CFL bulbs use one quarter of the amount of energy that incandescents use while generating the same amount of light.The table below compares the number of watts used by a compact fluorescent bulb to an incandescent bulb with the same light output. It certainly illustrates the impact switching to CFLs can have on environmental issues. If this doesn't make you want to do a little dance all the way to the bank, I do not know what will.

Compact fluorescent bulbs

Incandescent bulbs

7 watts

25 watts

15 watts

60 watts

18 watts

75 watts

27 watts

100 watts

32 watts

150 watts

Now along with the upside to these little gems, there is always a down side, which is just the up front cost. You will pay between $5 and $15 per bulb as opposed to as little as 50 cents for an incandescent bulb. However, if you purchase the compact fluorescent lamps in bulk, you can save about 40 percent, which I recommend anyway to maintain the color consistency of your lighting throughout the room.

When starting a new remodel, remember that lighting is one of the top ways to save energy. Consult with your professional contractors for advice on other green products that can also save you money or contribute to a healthier home environment.

Patricia Davis Brown