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How to pick best outdoor lighting

Dear Jim: There were some break-ins in my neighborhood this past year, so I want to install some outdoor security lighting that can also be used when entertaining. What are my options and which are most efficient? Ann J.

Dear Ann: Increasing outdoor lighting is one method to reduce the possibility of nighttime break-ins, but it should be used in moderation.

Outdoor lighting consumes huge amounts of electricity, contributes to global warming and creates problems for wildlife. Also, in major cities, outdoor lighting makes it almost impossible to see the stars at night.

The keys to energy and environmentally efficient outdoor lighting are selecting the proper type of bulb, light fixture design and shortest on-time period. Using just two 150-watt floodlights at night can increase your electric bills by up to $100 per year. With fixed floodlights, would-be thieves can often figure a way to get around them.

In areas where you will not need the lighting for entertaining, install motion-sensing fixtures or add-on motion-sensing switches. This greatly reduces the amount of on-time and increases the bulb life.

Since the light is not on when the intruder arrives, he does not know to avoid it until it switches on from his movement. This generally scares him away.

For areas where you want the outdoor lighting for both security and entertaining, select fixtures that direct the lighting downward in the specific areas needed. This minimizes light pollution in the night sky and may allow you to use lower wattages bulbs to save electricity.

Add-on shields are available for floodlights you already have.

As you would indoors, use fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lights outdoors. These are four times more energy efficient than standard incandescent bulbs and last 10 times longer. The light quality is similar.

Some CFL’s may not perform properly in very cold temperatures. If you find this to be a problem, use halogen bulbs. These are not as efficient as CFLs, but they are still 15 percent better than standard incandescent bulbs. Halogen bulbs produce a white light that is excellent when entertaining and it may enhance the appearance of your landscaping.

Most efficient

Although they are substantially more expensive to install, low-pressure sodium outdoor lighting fixtures are most efficient.

They use less than 15 percent as much electricity as incandescent bulbs.

The only drawbacks are they take a short time to heat up and come to full brightness, and the light is a monochromatic yellow. They will make you look like a corpse.

Some of the newest fixtures use clusters of white light-emitting diodes.

These are actually solid state devices that are extremely efficient and last almost forever. The light output is limited so they are best for lighting a specific small area.

The following companies offer efficient outdoor lighting: Adjusta-Post, (800) 321-2132, www.adjustapost.com; Hadco, (800) 331-4185, www.hadcolighting.com; Idaho Wood, (800) 635-1100, www.idaho wood.com; Kim Lighting, (626) 968-5666, www.kimlighting.com; and RAB Lighting, (888) 722-1000, www.rabweb.com.

Antifreeze

Dear Jim: We have hot water heat in our house. During the coldest part of the winter, it makes creaking sounds. Is it true that adding antifreeze to the water can help it flow more quietly during the cold weather? Bryon D.

Dear Bryon: Adding antifreeze to the water in the heating system only helps if there is a possibility the water in the pipes may freeze. Most homes do not have a potential freezing problem and the antifreeze will not reduce noise.

If your system actually does need antifreeze, do not add standard automobile antifreeze yourself. There is special glycol antifreeze for heating systems. The antifreeze will reduce the water’s heat carrying capacity.

Send inquiries to James Dulley, The Decatur Daily, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.

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