Home Improvement – Lighting Timers and Occupancy Sensors

by Rachel Laurendeau on November 13, 2012

Using lighting timers and sensors in and around your home can make it safer, more secure and save you money on your energy bills. This is one home improvement that you can’t afford not to undertake.

Motion sensors are often added to lights on garages, along walkways or at the front door. Having the lights turn on automatically as they are needed when you or guests arrive at your home is extremely welcoming and convenient. You don’t need to leave the lights on constantly, and you can be certain that the light will always come on for you when it’s needed. Additionally, with the walkways and front entry being well-lit, you are creating a safer walk and helping to prevent accidents.

When outdoor sensors first hit the market, all you could buy were large spotlights that were triggered by the slightest breeze. Today, you can put a motion sensor on nearly any light and the sensitivity and range of the sensors are adjustable.

If you prefer, you can also set up your outdoor lights with a programmable timer so that they automatically turn off and on at certain times of the day/night or so that they turn on when the sun sets or rises.

Gone are the days of dial-style timers that turn on a single lamp at exactly the same time every day. Today’s timers are much more sophisticated and can be installed directly on a light switch by an electrician, home improvement contractor or a skilled do-it-yourselfer. There are models that have preset programs but others, like the ones from Leviton, are programmable and allow you to set your lights to come off and on at different times every day, over several days/weeks. This is is perfect if you tend to travel a lot and are away from home for extended periods of time.

Occupancy sensors can replace your existing wall switches and respond to motion in the room by turning lights on. The lights will stay on as long as the room is occupied and turn off after you leave the room. This is an excellent option for people with disabilities or mobility issues or if you have kids in the house who are forever forgetting to turn off the lights. These are particularly handy in areas that are easily forgotten, like the laundry room or playroom and in rooms where you might enter with your hands full, such as the mudroom.

Green Tip: by having your lights on sensors or timers, they will only come on as needed and turn off automatically, preventing extra light pollution in your neighborhood and saving a great deal of energy that would otherwise be wasted, both indoors and out.

Want to add sensors or timers on some of your home’s light fixtures but not sure where to start? Talk to your general contractor or your local home improvement expert.

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