See Summer in a Whole New Light

The arrival of comfortable temperatures invites us to spend evenings on a porch, deck or patio.

Chart of LED bulb lifeWhen friends or neighbors stop by, this outdoor space often becomes an extension of the living room, so it’s important to have a well-lit and inviting area. 

Outdoor lighting adds ambiance, function and security to outdoor spaces. Lighting also accounts for about 15 percent of an average home’s electricity use, so it pays to make energy-efficient choices. 

Here are a few suggestions to help you light your outdoor space wisely:

UPDATE YOUR BULBS. Ditch outdated incandescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs) are better, long-lasting options that will save you money. Plus, both types are available as weather-resistant floodlights that can integrate with a home security system for added safety.

LOOK FOR THE STAR. Buy only ENERGY STAR® outdoor rated products to get the highest quality, most energy-efficient lighting available. Rule of thumb: Replace incandescent bulbs that are lit three or more hours a day with ENERGY STAR® qualified CFLs or LEDs. Incandescent bulbs are based on old technology and waste 90 percent of their energy as heat. Plus, LEDs typically live up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

SET IT, FORGET IT AND SAVE. Timers: Outdoor lighting timers let you program lights to turn on and off automatically. There are also units that combine sensor and timer technologies to give you the greatest flexibility in control. 

Daylight sensors: A photocell detects the presence or absence of light, automatically turning your light on at night and off during the day. You can purchase a light fixture with a daylight sensor built in or add a sensor to control existing lights.

Motion sensors: Lights with motion detectors turn on only when they sense movement. When placed where potential intruders are most likely to pass, these lights can also enhance a home’s security.

USE LOW-VOLTAGE OPTIONS TO DO IT YOURSELF. Perfect for accenting landscape features, trees, plants and walkways, low-voltage outdoor lighting comes in a myriad of styles and wattages. It also adds a measure of safety and security to the outside of your home. Because it operates at 12 or 24 volts, it’s safe for those who want to install the system themselves. It’s also generally less expensive than 120-volt outdoor lighting.