Are you still using incandescent light bulbs? What about standard light switches? Is the lack of natural light in your home inflating your energy bills? A few minor tweaks to your home’s lighting scheme can save you money, and even help make it more beautiful!
Energy Saving At Home: Lighting Tips
Keep it Natural
Natural light is probably the most flattering, invigorating, and beautiful light source there is, plus it’s free! It’s just too bad that enlarging those tiny, tiny windows isn’t. Before you start resenting the energy savings of all those people with cathedral sized windows in their homes, try simply fixing mirrors opposite your windows to double your natural light. It’s no fancy plan, but mirrors are pretty and they’ll even make your space look larger.
Have a Light Bulb Moment
It’s no secret that in the past few years lighting has gotten way more complicated. Sometimes it’s just more comfortable to stick with what you know. However, if you’re still using standard incandescent bulbs in your home, you’re missing out on the savings. Compact fluorescents (CFL) last about seven times longer than standard incandescent lights and LED last on average 23 times longer. Plus, LEDs and CFLs use much less energy than incandescent bulbs, so you’ll save money on your electric bill too.
Switch Your Switches
A hundred years ago, the standard light switch was innovative and now it’s the equivalent of a typewriter. There are a couple of innovative light controls that are easy to install, can save you cash, and will definitely make your life easier along the way:
• Dimmers are probably the most popular kind of innovative switch, allowing you to adjust the light levels in any room with the touch of a button. When you dim the lights for a romantic dinner, a family movie viewing, or even a blissful soak in the tub, you’re saving energy and extending the life of your light bulbs.
• Occupancy sensors are a great investment for those of us who are a bit scatterbrained. If you have trouble remembering to turn off the lights when you leave a room or your hands are full, these handy controls will do it for you.
Do-it-Yourself When You Can
If you are renovating, trying to sell your house, or perhaps are in bad need of an update, there are some simple lighting projects you can save on by doing them yourself. For example, installing recessed lights might seem like a task fit for a professional, but if there’s an existing power source in the ceiling and an electrical switch already in the wall, it’s really easy to do.
Some of these projects may require an initial investment of time or money to complete, but they’re worth it. Energy saving at home will allow you to reap the benefits for years to come and now you can use your savings on things you really care about!
Bio: Annie Josey is a blogger for Pegasus Lighting, a national lighting retailer committed to helping anyone save money with energy-conserving lights. She has assisted homeowners with everything from technical lighting issues to finding design inspiration.
As a single woman, you’re likely very aware of your personal safety and have already taken precautions to keep your home secure. Whether you have a burglar alarm or not, there are a few do it yourself home security measures you can use to reinforce your home security.
According to the FBI, a home burglary happens every 15 seconds. About 34% of the time an intruder enters through an unlocked or inadequately secured front door, first level windows (23%) or door at the back of the house (22%).
Since no neighborhood is completely safe from crime, you can reduce your home’s burglar “appeal” by starting at the curb. Take a look at your home from the front curb through the eyes of a prowler:
- Is the front door in plain view of the street?
- Is the path covered behind landscaping?
- Is it a dark and inviting place to hide?
- Do you have an attached garage?
- Is it dark inside at night?
Next, take a look at the side of the house from the curb.
- Are there high bushes near windows?
- Do you have old windows?
- Do you have unlocked gates?
- Is it dark?
These are just a few key areas to look for that could provide easy access and a hiding place for prowlers to work on opening doors or window locks. Most of the time burglars want to get in and get out as quickly and quietly as possible without being seen.
Keep it Illuminated
Lighting is one of the biggest initial deterrents. Add motion lighting to side and back yards and directly over garage doors. It’s great for putting a spotlight on potential crime. Put your front porch and landscape lighting on timers or use photo sensors so the lights come on and go off automatically at dusk and dawn. These are nice because you don’t have to remember to turn them off or on and they save energy too. Indoor lighting on timers or automated controls give the impression of someone being home at night. This is much safer than a dark, uninhabited home.
Landscaping should be kept neat with shrubs and bushes trimmed to a maximum of 3-feet high. Keep large tree branches pruned and over 8 feet high to discourage climbing. Planting prickly bushes such as holly, roses or creeping juniper near windows makes it difficult for a would-be-robber to hide in while working your side or back windows.
Since doors are the first place a burglar looks to enter, keeping them locked at all times, and reinforced with heavy duty hardware is important. Most homes are built with basic door hardware, that wouldn’t pass a “kick test.” Replace strike plates (where the latch connects with the door frame) by using high security strike plates with 3-inch wood screws on all exterior doors, including the one to the garage. This will attach the plate deep into the wooden door frame, not just the door frame molding. Check to see if the door hinge screws are at least 3-inches as well, if they aren’t, replace them too. While you’re doing this, make sure the hinges are on the inside of the door, not the outside. If not, get some help to re-hang the door properly.
Electronic locks are growing in popularity, and are reasonably priced. They’re more secure than standard locks by protecting against “lock bumping,” a technique used by burglars to unlock standard pin and tumbler locks. They don’t require electricity either, so you don’t have to worry about being locked out if the power has gone out.
Always check the peep hole. Is it wide enough for you to see the whole walk way and door step? Is it low enough for smaller family members to see through it? If not, switch it out to a wide angle version.
Patio doors should be secured like the front door with reinforced strike plates, a deadbolt or knob lock, and a top and bottom lock. Since patio doors usually have glass, a 3-point locking system makes them more difficult to get into. Check your doors to see if there are three locking points, if not, this hardware is easy to install. Sliding glass doors should also include a top pin, key lock or classic wooden dowel.
Your windows are the next area to secure. If you live in an older home with louvered windows, it’s best to get these replaced. They make it too easy to gain access by removing glass plates to reach for a door latch or by just climbing through.
One mistake many people make is thinking that a window is “too small” for someone to climb through; these include bathroom slide windows above tubs and showers. Thieves have been known to access these windows even on the second floor by climbing on the roof. Closing bathroom windows when not needed or installing venting locks keeps these small windows from being vulnerable.
Most new windows come with good locking hardware, but as with doors, one lock usually isn’t sufficient. Many casement windows also come with a secondary pin lock to keep it from being slid open. If your windows don’t have this, add a lock that goes over the track. You can even use these locks for venting to keep the window from being opened all the way. Just be sure to vent no more than 3-inches or no more than a small hand could reach through.
Secure double-hung windows with a long pin that goes through both sides of the sash to keep them from being lifted. Many windows come with this; if yours don’t there are plenty of options for securing this type of window including venting locks, hinged wedge locks or a keyed turnbuckle that can replace the existing latch.
Garage Door Risks
Garage doors are also a common entry point. Be sure to keep the door between the garage and the house locked at all times. Manual overhead garage doors should be kept closed and locked.
Automatic garage doors can also pose a risk. Burglars can quickly access your garage with a wire hanger by pulling the emergency lever. Designed to be used in the event of a power outage or other emergency, the lever allows the door to be opened manually.
A simple way to secure the automatic door is to use a zip tie to keep the latch firmly closed so it can’t be opened from the outside. To see where the zip tie needs to be placed, pull the rope or lever to see the point where it’s released. Close the door and use the zip tie to keep the lever from moving. The tie can still be broken from the inside by pulling hard on the rope or lever in the event of an emergency.
Keeping your home secure is as much about being aware as it is about how and when we use these security devices. Knowing your neighbors and looking out for each other is also a big step to keeping intruders out of your home and out of your neighborhood altogether.
This is an article written by Jeremy Kushner, a home security and automation enthusiast who blogs on topics related to crime, security, home improvement and automation. You can find more of his posts at HomeAlarmSystems.com!