Enchanted Evenings: Outdoor Lighting

We’ve all driven through the neighborhood with beautiful, magical homes at night, wondering how their landscaper made the yard look that spectacular under a dark sky. Not all of us can afford a landscape designer, but all of us can create a beautiful outdoor landscape! The winter, when the sun sets before many families sit down for dinner, is the time of year you will want your front yard to look inviting, and your guests to be able to find their cars without tripping in the dark. So here’s what to know about outdoor lighting.

There are many choices when it comes to outdoor lights. From wall light and lanterns, to hanging lights, ceiling lights, flood lighting, cove lighting, lights for decks and steps, the choices can get overwhelming. How do you choose what is right for your yard?

First, consider the purpose. Do you just need something basic to light the pathway? Are you in need of some flood lighting on the driveway? Do you have a wrap-around deck that hasn’t been used past dark? The scale of your project will help you choose the appropriate lighting. When you have an idea of what you want, determine the approximate square footage of the area lit. You can use a simple formula to roughly estimate how much wattage your project might use: Multiply the square footage by 1.5. While not exact, it will give you an estimate of how much energy you’ll be adding onto your monthly bill.

Next, consider your project, and options to conserve energy. If you want to turn your home into a light exhibit, you should prepare to use significant energy doing so. Today’s market does offer some energy-saving options, though! When shopping, look for lighting with the Energy Star logo on the packaging. You might also consider LED bulbs. While the look may be different than what you’ll get from a traditional incandescent bulb, the energy savings can reach up to 75 percent, and they have a significantly longer life span. Another great design tip that can conserve energy is to install light-control options. Dimmers, motion sensors, and timers are among the options on the market today. These make your home smarter and give you options to use light only as needed.

Did you know that you can actually choose light bulbs based on desired color? Bulbs come with ratings that will tell you how the light will appear. Ranging from 2700k-7000k, the lower the number, the warmer the light.  On the upper end, anything over 4000k will appear cool, white, or blue. Use this knowledge to set your home’s ambience.

Some other tips to keep in mind: Only use fixtures designed for the outdoors. It’s important to use weather-resistant materials, and the simplest way to do so is to only use a light outside that was made to be outside. Remember when lighting to keep it reasonable. You don’t need the brightest lights in every corner of the property, and you’ll want to make sure the light stays in your yard. It’s not neighborly to let your lights reach your neighbors’ homes. And remember your priorities before you get carried away. Walkways, entryways, and any feature you wish to highlight. Good design highlights the focus points, and provides the right ambience elsewhere, and as needed. Lastly, don’t forget to have fun! Design is always an exciting update, and now you’ll have a reason to look forward to the shorter days.

Remember, if you do need help, we can refer you to a professional. At Responsible Contractors, we aim to bring you the best of construction. To see contractors we recommend to help you with your home, visit us online at responsiblecontractors.com. For a specific recommendation, contact us! We are always happy to give you a referral.

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