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Alternative Lighting: Living by Candlelight

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to return to the years of yore, a time before electricity and gas when life was simpler? Granted electricity and gas have revolutionized society and altered the very course of history, there’s something about the idea that fascinates me. That is why I decided to “switch it off” and pursue an alternative method of illuminating my home sans electricity.

It is safe to say that thanks to the utilization of gas and electricity, the use of candles as a means of illumination is a little bit outdated, however they have not entirely been rendered obsolete. Today candles are primarily used as a means of decorating, for their aroma, or for lighting up a Jack-O-Lantern. In my case, I chose to light my house with nothing but candles for one whole month. Not only for the experience of living by candlelight, but also because I was curious about how much money I would save on my electrical bill (it was a lot!).

Despite tremendous advances over the past century, the use of candles as an effective lighting source has not completely disappeared. For example, candles are commonly a go-to method of lighting a room in case of emergency, say a power outage. However other than for emergencies and other situational purposes, few people commonly utilize candles over electrical lighting.

Contrary to popular belief, the use of candles as a lighting source is not actually as much of a hassle as many people think. In fact, utilizing candles is actually very similar to the use of electric light bulbs. To be honest, the biggest difference I see between the two is the fact that candles are a one-time (until you run out) fixed-rate purchase, whereas with light bulbs one must purchase the actual bulb, then pay the cost of running said bulbs. It may just be me, but I see the former as a better deal.

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Implement candles at home

When it comes to actually implementing the use of candles in one’s home, it is far more simple than one would believe. For instance, one would only turn on a light bulb when it was necessary; and when the light is no longer needed, switch it off. The purpose of this being to not only eliminate excessive light but to save money on your next electrical bill as well. Like a light bulb, when the light of a candle is not needed, simply blow out the wick in order to conserve wax, thus extending the life of the candle.


By ZeHawk under CC BY-ND 2.0


There are many ways in which someone can optimize their use of candles as a source of light inside their home. A couple of ideas include:

–          Mirrors:

  • Use the mirror’s reflectivity to disperse the candlelight, potentially illuminating an entire room with just one candle.

–          Sconces:

  • Line your hallways and staircases with these convenient candle holders in order to illuminate common poorly lit areas of the house.
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–          Quality vs. Bulk:

  • This may be the toughest decision you face when switching the candles from electricity. If one were willing to spend the extra money, investing in longer-lasting candles is a great decision. If you stay on top of conserving them they could ultimately last you 2 weeks to a month! Thus reducing the chore of purchasing more candles once a week. On the other hand, you could take the opposite route and instead opt for quantity over quality. There are multiple sites across the internet that offer numerous styles of tealight candles in bulk for ridiculously cheap prices. Although these candles don’t last as long, the mass quantity will make up for the difference. Whether you choose quality over quantity, or vice versa, your savings will skyrocket.

I know Earth Day has already come and gone this year, but there is no reason not to prepare for next year! Converting one’s home from electrical illumination to candlelight is not only good for your wallet, but good for the Earth as well. Next time you desire change and start thinking about spending big bucks on remodeling or rearranging the house, consider this bright idea.