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Tips for using security lights efficiently, cheaply

Don't light the sky with outdoor security lights. Direct the beam to the area you want illuminated, and cut down on light pollution, complaints from neighbors.

Don't light the sky with outdoor security lights. Direct the beam to the area you want illuminated, and cut down on light pollution, complaints from neighbors.

Even if you spend a bundle on outdoor security lighting, there’s no need to overspend operating it.

For security lights to conserve electricity, focus light only on the areas you want to illuminate, and attach to timers or sensors so they switch themselves off when they’re not needed.

Too many outdoor lights shine light in every direction – including upward, where the light is wasted, and outward, where it will shine in your neighbor’s windows instead of on your patio or driveway.

Light your yard, not the sky. Here are tips for more energy-efficient outdoor lighting:

• Install proper shielded overhead security lighting. The shield will concentrate the light, making the best use of it and reduce light pollution.

• Don’t use more light than you need. Too much light can give off an uncomfortable glare, which actually lowers visibility. Shielded lighting allows you to use a lower wattage bulb and prevent your patio from looking like a stadium.

• With lighting used strictly for security, install a motion sensor instead of leaving it on all night. Outdoor motion-sensing lights are an economical alternative to floodlights left on all night. Motion sensors illuminate an area only when they sense movement and shut off when the movement stops.

• For security, walkway and porch lighting, use fixtures with a timer or photovoltaic cell unit so the lights turn off in the morning.

• Shop around for the most efficient kind of lights. You might be able to use low-pressure sodium bulbs in some fixtures; they give off the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb, but with less wattage. For other lights, switch to compact fluorescent or metal halide bulbs, which are more energy-efficient.

• Try out some LED floodlights, which use up to 75 percent less energy than traditional light bulbs. Outdoor LED lights are more expensive to buy than CFLs, but they are more ideal for outdoor lighting because they’re so efficient and they last so long you might never have to change them.

• If your floodlight is on the sunny side of the house, consider a solar-powered model. It will drink in the sun’s energy all day and store it for use after dark.

• Look for outdoor lighting fixtures that are Energy Star-rated. Many come with convenient energy-saving features like motion sensors and automatic shutoff at daybreak. If your lights don’t have those high-end fixtures, connect them to timers that automatically turn your lights on when it gets dark and off at daybreak, which saves money on your electric bill.

• Position outdoor lights to illuminate the largest area possible. That way, you use fewer of them.

• If you’re still burning natural gas in your decorative outdoor lamps, turn them off for good. With continual use, those energy hogs burn as much natural gas as a house uses for heat all winter.

Rosie Romero has been in the Arizona home-building and remodeling industry for 35 years. He has a radio program from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays on KNST-AM (790). For more do-it-yourself tips and for Arizona’s most-trusted contractor referral network, go to rosieonthehouse.com or call (888) ROSIE-4-U during the show. The Rosie on the House column appears every Friday.

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