There's much discussion around lighting these days, with good reason. Going green is a multifaceted process. It requires that we use less energy, buy products that last and that we consider how environmentally friendly the manufacturing and disposing of a product rates. That's a lot to think about.

The lighting industry has been transitioning the way we think about the common, yet now impractical, light bulb for a decade or so, and has developed an excellent alternate lighting source — LEDs, or light emitting diodes. They are made of material that is 100 percent safe for the environment, they last years (instead of months), and run on a tiny amount of energy.

We are not quick to change our lifestyle or shopping patterns, especially if we deem an alternative has shortfalls that don't suit our tastes. I remember the first LED Christmas lights; these were supposed to replace the traditional fairy lights. However, they emitted a harsh white light or bright, vivid colors that produced a radically different atmosphere than their twinkling counterparts.

The first round of LEDs got a thumbs down from most of us. If that's where you left off, then there's dazzling news today. High-quality LEDs are available in warm and cool colors, with various light beam patterns that allow you to maximize on design options while slashing your light bills.

I have always stressed the importance of having a good plan for lighting your home's interior. Proper lighting ensures that life at home is safe, comfortable for work and play, and lovely to look at. For all the same reasons, you need a design plan in place for the outside, too.

Tom Herstad, president of Regal Lighting Designs (www.regallightingdesigns.com), brought me up to speed on the latest trends in exterior lighting and why his design company uses high-quality LEDs exclusively. The enchanting home pictured with this column, with lighting designed by Herstad's company, illustrates how effect lighting shows off a home's charisma.

Highlight the features of your home that give it character — the roofline, the stone, brick or wood walls, pillars and decorative moldings. For added security, front, side and back doors should be well lit. “Properly positioned LEDs won't shine into your neighbors' windows,” says Herstad, “and the ultra-low energy consumption means that key outdoor lights can be kept on all night, which is an excellent deterrent for burglars.”

Enjoy your garden after dark by positioning up-lighting for trees, foliage and flowers. A birch tree shimmers with the LED's white light beam, while a warm white suits large trees such as oak or maple. A gently lit pathway through the garden is a welcoming feature. Your eye will go where the light is, so focus on special garden attractions — a birdbath, garden sculpture or water feature.

Porches and patios are outdoor rooms that may call for different lighting treatments, depending on how they are being used. Small lamps and lanterns as well as overhead spots let you control the amount of light and set the mood. Existing fixtures can be converted to LEDs, and the slimmer LED wiring is easy to hide. Visit www.regalleds.com for a source of high-quality LEDs.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Email your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com. You can follow Travis on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis, and visit her website, www.debbie travis.com.