Are You Spending Too Much Money on Lighting Up Your Yard At Night?
Landscape lighting has a lot of advantages, from deterring burglars, to improving your home’s curb appeal, to helping with winter blues. How much is it costing you on your energy bill, though? While landscape lighting is going to cost something in power use, there are ways you can reduce those costs. Let’s take a look at some.
1. LED Lights
Landscape lighting is always going to require some power and that power is always going to cost you some amount of money. With proper light choices, however, you can really reduce the amount of power needed. The easiest and most obvious choice is to use LED lighting. According to the US Department of Energy, LED lights use up to 75% less power and last up to 25% longer than other lights. Part of this comes from the way they emit light. They emit light in a specific direction, which reduces the need for reflectors and diffusers that trap light, forcing other light bulbs to put out more light and thus use more power. They also put out more light because of their efficiency: where other bulbs lose 80%-90% of their energy as heat, LED lights emit very little heat, letting more of that energy be used for the lighting. The end result is a huge reduction in power use.
2. Smart Lighting
As long as the lights are on, they’re using power. It’s therefore best to only have the lights on when they’re needed. The trouble is, the lighting is used at night while you’re mostly sleeping and, unless you wake up before the sunrise, you’re likely going to have the lights running while the sun is up in the morning. You can avoid this with smart lighting. There are a couple of options.
A. Photocell Switches
Portland Sprinklers and Lighting, a company that installs landscape lighting in Oregon, installs lights with photocell switches. Photocell switches use light detecting sensors to trigger the on/off switch in the light. As soon as the light levels in the yard dip bellow a certain amount, the lights turn on. As soon as the light rises above that threshold, they turn off.
B. Timer Switches
These switches have built in timers that you can set to control when the lights go on and off. These come in both mechanical and digital types. Mechanical timer switches will have have an egg-timer like controller that you can set to switch the light off based on the time of day. Digital types instead have computerized internal clocks that keep track of the time of day and manage the lighting accordingly.
C. Network Controlled Smart Lighting
If you’re using a digital timer switch, some models can also connect to your home network. Through appropriate apps, it’s possible to use this connection to control the lights from your cell phone or computer. You can change the timing on the lighting at the push of a button, letting you adjust the lighting to suit your needs.
3. Solar Powered Lights
“But how can solar powered lights work at night?” I hear you ask. Well, hypothetical person who exists for purely rhetorical purposes, solar powered lights are designed with an internal rechargeable battery. During the day, when the light is off, it absorbs solar energy to recharge that battery so it can power itself all night light. These work best with mixed with photocell switches that turn the lights on at dusk and back off at sunrise. Since these are powered by solar energy, you don’t have to plug them into your power grid, so they cost you nothing. Not all types of landscape lights are fitted with solar batteries, however, so this option isn’t always available.
Save Money on Landscape Lighting
No matter what options you go with, landscape lighting is always going to cost something. With proper choice of lighting options, however, you can minimize the cost. While nearly all companies will install LED lights by default now – there’s simply no reason not to – there are other options available that can help you manage your lights further. When installing landscape lighting, be sure to ask what power and money saving options are available. That way, you can get the most out of your lighting while saving money on your power bill.