Lighting, in and of itself, is a fairly utilitarian part of a home. It’s something that we use daily without giving it much thought. But there are many ways that you can improve how the lights look and operate. Many updates cost very little and are easy to implement. So give some or all of these ideas a whirl. You might be surprised at the difference a smarter lighting solution can make.
Switch to LED light bulbs. For starters, there significantly more efficient than the incandescent bulbs you might still be using. You’ll save energy and money on your electric bills as one of the biggest benefits. Be sure that when you choose an LED light bulb that it can be dimmed (see tip #5). LEDs that enable you to tune the color temperature are also worth checking out. Being able to dim and alter the color temperature of an LED bulb can have a dramatic effect on the way a room looks.
Upgrade to smart light bulbs. A smart light bulb (many LED bulbs fall into this category) is able to be controlled from an app on your phone. So in addition to saving energy, you can gain greater control over the lights. For example, instead of pawing for a light switch on the wall as you enter your house, you can tap a button on a mobile app to activate a smart bulb as you pull into the driveway.
Incorporate colored LED light bulbs. The Philips Hue bulb set the color craze in motion several years ago, and since then people have started to recognize colored lighting as more than just a fun novelty. Colored lighting can influence our mood, foster better health, and accentuate the architecture and design of our homes. Most multi-color LED light bulbs are also smart, which means you can pick and choose colors from a mobile app.
Install dimmer switches. Dimming a light by 25 percent can cut electricity costs by 20 percent, according to Lutron; not to mention the fact that the lighting just looks better when it’s a little softer. You’ll need to know the bulb type (LED, incandescent, CFL) and bulb wattage to ensure that you choose the right dimmer. Other choices you’ll need to make: the color of the dimmer wall plate, the style of the dimmer (toggle, paddle, knob or buttons). Also some dimmers incorporate advanced features like setting the lights automatically to your favorite level.
Piggyback lamps to plug-in modules. Up until this point, most of our suggestions have pertained to screw in light bulbs. Don’t forget to include floor and table lamps in your lighting update. These plug-in modules can be operated via a simple remote control. You can turn on and off the lights and dim them to different intensity levels.
Add motion sensors. These simple devices, which install on the ceiling or wall (you can find some that are built into a dimmer switch) do exactly what you’d expect: They turn the lights on when they detect motion and off when that motion stops. You can usually set the sensitivity and delay time for the lights to turn off after a room is vacated. Motion sensors are ideal for areas where lights tend to be accidentally left on like closets and powder rooms. You can also incorporate wireless onto doors so that when a door opens, the light turns on, for example.
Use timers (astronomical timers are the best kind). A dimmer switch with a built-in timer can keep its connected lights on schedule you define; for instance, on at 7 p.m. and off at 8 a.m. Lights that follow a schedule have long been a employed as a way to make an vacant house look as if it is occupied—like when you’re on vacation. Also available are timers that turn on and off lights according to your local sunrise and sunset or that turn lights on and off in an unpredictable pattern (better for security purposes).
Incorporate light sensors. There’s no reason to activate light switches if enough natural sunlight is available. Some switches, like the Maestro from Lutron, incorporate an ambient light sensor that allows the light to turn only if there natural light in the room is low. A manual override button lets you bypass this feature to control the lights as you normally would.
Set up scenes. Keypads are available that install in place of existing light switches. Each button of the keypad can be easily programmed to set the lights to certain intensity levels. Programming happens basically like this: You set the lights in a room the way you like, tap a button on the keypad and it will remember that setting the next time you tap that button.
Install a smart lighting system.
If all of these features sound appealing, you might want to invest in a complete lighting control system. You’ll be able to monitor and manage your home’s lights remotely, create scenes and schedules, automate them according to motion and time, and sync their operation with other devices—motorized window shades, thermostats, etc.
Use Your Voice. Many of the options mentioned above can be controlled through voice commands. Whether it’s through Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple Siri, voice control is convenient and it’s become more reliable. It’s also a super convenient way to operate your home’s lights when your hands are occupied–like cooking in the kitchen or working on your computer.
Looking to Add Smart Technology to Your Home?
Home automation has come a long way. Today, there are solutions available almost everywhere. Need help turning your home into a “smart” home. Find an installer near you.Find an installer near you