“Go outside!” You remember your Mom yelling that to you as a kid, and now I find myself doing the same thing with my kids. We’re deep into summer vacation and the boredom factor has set it, and I’m hard at work fighting off the pull of the screens. Going outside is an easy way to make sure we unplug (more ideas on that here) and it’s an easy way to save some money, too.
One of our biggest regular expenses in the summertime has historically been our electric bill. Because, AIR CONDITIONING. I can’t live without it, but I can certainly live without a ginormous bill. I’ve learned so much about easy ways make more energy-efficient decisions and save money for my family. Lower utility bills mean more vacation money. Win, win! As we’ve implemented these ideas, we’ve actually seen a decrease in our electric bill.
Solar Lights Are Energy Efficient (And Save Money!)
Spending more time outside is a surefire way to unplug, and I especially enjoy it in the evening after the heat of the day has passed. Turn off the TVs, the phones, the laptops, and chill out with the family around a fire pit. We recently added a bunch of cool solar lights to our patio which gives it such a fun, festive atmosphere. I really had fun shopping for these items – some of them were totally new to me!
Not only are there a huge variety of unique solar light options, but obviously since they’re solar powered, you don’t plug them in – no electricity! You can easily enjoy a comfortably energy-efficient night outside with your family and based on my research (ahem, 3 nights in a row having a fire pit and roasting s’mores after dark), your kids will be asking to turn in the screens and hit the night air with mom and dad.
Creative Solar Light Decor
You can find some outdoor solar lighting at the big box stores, but I shopped exclusively on Amazon just because they have the widest selection and biggest variety. The trick to really not having to turn on any outdoor light switches is to plan your solar lighting in levels, from the ground up. People want to be able to see where they’re walking, and they want to see the faces of the people they’re talking to. So you need some lights up high and some down low. Here’s where we put everything.
Ground lighting is a must and there are so many cool options here. This is the solar ground lighting set that we got and I love it because you can actually change the color of the lights (in the second pic below we had them on blue).
These lights also cast a cool pattern on the ground which not only provides adequate light to see where you’re walking, but is also just pretty!
Depending on how big your outdoor space is you’ll probably want a set of 8 of these at minimum.
The solar umbrella is my coolest find! I love this thing. It’s a really nice, big patio umbrella on its own, but when nighttime hits, it becomes something special!
There’s a solar panel on top of the umbrella that soaks up the sun all day long, and at night, you can flip a switch on one of the arms of the umbrella to turn on all the little lights.
Isn’t it so pretty? This one comes in a variety of colors and I personally like one that’s a bit darker so that it provides good shade during the day (another tip for keeping yourself cool without the AC!).
Strings of Lights
Lights in the trees add the most to the festive atmosphere. These globe lights are so easy to hang, and they have a little stake you put in the ground with the solar panel attached to it, so that’s the part you want to make sure gets some sunlight.
Initially I bought one strand and loved how it looked so much that I bought two more. There’s one branch on that tree that kind of leans over the patio so we got a little ladder out to string lights there, but otherwise I kept them close to people-height to not only create the mood, but also serve as functional light. Keep that in mind when hanging them. If you go too high, they aren’t going to help you see very well.
Colorful Tabletop Light
I’m obsessed with this thing! This tabletop solar globe is like our own little disco ball.
It’s perfect to put on an end table where people are leaving their drinks and snacks. It provides just enough light to be helpful but the pull is definitely the cool colors.
I happened to be in Lowe’s while I was on this solar light kick and found this adorable little color-changing frog to float in the birdbath. He was just a couple bucks so I grabbed him.
He changes colors all on his own as the lights go down. That’s what I love about these lights. Other than that umbrella, I don’t have to go out and turn anything on. It just comes on at night on its own and voila, an instant awesome patio!
Clearly this isn’t a solar powered item, but it’s worth a mention. Nothing creates a summer-night mood like a fire pit.
The only thing missing is the s’mores!
What other ideas do you have to decorate your outdoor space using only energy-efficient items? I’m kinda into this now and am going to be adding to our solar powered patio when I find new goodies I love!