Lights are a staple in every home, but that doesn’t mean your switches should be like everyone else’s. With a few simple tweaks, the fixtures can do more simply illuminate your home as a bit of lighting control. They can curb your energy use, evoke ambiance, and protect your home, for example. Here are 10 simple ways to realize your lights’ full potential.
1. Put Them on a Timer. Most families follow a fairly routine weekday schedule: out the door at 7 a.m., back at 6 p.m. By putting your lights on a timer, you won’t have to remember to turn them off every time you leave for work or school. The timer can signal them back on so that the house is well-lit for your return.
2. Use an Astronomical Clock. Many people find that astronomical clocks are more effective at keeping the lights on a schedule. Astronomical timers base their on and off times on the rising and setting of the sun, so they’re able to compensate for seasonal changes.
3. Update with Dimmers. Experts say that dimming your lights by just 25 percent can save 20 percent in energy use. Minimal dimming is often imperceptible to the naked eye.
4. Use What Nature Provides. Often, the sun that shines through a home’s windows can adequately illuminate a space. A sunlight sensor can tell certain lights to dim or turn off whenever there’s enough sunlight to handle the job.
5. Carve a Pathway. We’ve all groped our way to the kitchen or bathroom in the middle of the night. When connected to sensors and a control system, the light fixtures can illuminate a pathway to your destination whenever you step out of bed or open the front door, for example.
6. Integrate Security. Your home’s lights and a security system work can well together, providing your home an extra layer of protection. Say it’s after midnight when the backyard motion sensor detects someone or something in the backyard. It can signal the lights to flash in an attempt to scare away the intruder. The same thing can happen should the system detect a break in or a fire, but as a way to lead emergency crews to your house.
7. Put in Keypads. All those banks of light switches in your house can be replaced with one single keypad. Each button on the keypad can be assigned (and labeled) to a specific switch. You’ll no longer need to remember which switch controls which light, and one keypad looks better on the wall than a row of a half-dozen switches.
8. Set the Scene. Lighting keypads relay their commands to lights through a lighting control system. A custom electronic professional (sometimes a handy homeowner) can program the buttons on a keypad to dim and brighten groups of lights to specific intensity levels. These lighting scenes can be designed for special occasions (parties and holidays) common activities (movie time, dinner) or to simply enhance the appearance of the artwork and architecture of your home.
9. Make a Statement. The keypads available with lighting control systems come in a rainbow of colors and styles. Choose the ones that’ll complement your decorating scheme.
10. Install a Complete System. Your lights can do all of the above, and more, when they’re connected to a lighting control system. Often, other devices can be controlled by the system, giving you the ability to turn on your favorite music and dim the lights at the same time by pressing one button on a keypad, for example.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.