How to transform your home (and save money!) with the power of light
Spanish Inquisition or Romantic Dinner for Two?
One of the quickest ways to set a mood is with lighting. Notice how you never walk into a nice restaurant for dinner under the glare of bright light? Or how nice it is to sit in your living room at night during the holidays with just the holiday lights or a fire? Adjustable lighting gives you easy control over the feel and mood of the rooms in your home.
Dim the Lights
The number one easiest way to control your lights is to replace standard on/off switches with dimmers — dimmers come in all varieties, from your basic $5 round push and turn version to full fledged smart controls with memory settings, remote controls, vacancy sensors and scene controls (like the one below from Leviton, available at The Home Depot).
As a bonus, using dimmer controls on your lights can also reduce your electricity bill. The lower the light, the less energy it requires. Lutron, a leading manufacturer of lighting controls, has an online Energy Calculator on its site — enter bulb type, quantity, wattage — to see how much electricity, money and replacement costs you save with different dimmer settings and use.
Energy efficient light bulbs are also now available in dimmable versions — there are dimmable CFL bulbs and LED bulbs. You can pick up a two-pack of 65W equivalent dimmable CFL bulbs at The Home Depot for about $15.
Don’t Light Empty Rooms
Dimmers are available with occupancy sensors (like the Lutron dimmer below, available for about $40 from The Home Depot)— turning lights off automatically when the room is empty. Some occupancy dimmers can also be set to turn on automatically when someone enters the room, while others offer a variety of control combinations — e.g., come on automatically when someone enters while requiring a manual turn off.
Next week: Choosing and Placing Lights to Make the Most of Your Rooms