Remodeling: Let there be light

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ June 17, 2011

Another prudent remodeling project to consider these days when cash is tight is a plan to revamp your lighting. Kitchen lighting focuses on energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness today with new -generation light-emitting diode (LED) and compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. Add a strategic dimmer or two, a set of spot lighting fixtures and you're on your way to a rich, layered and elegant lighting scheme that saves cash in the long run.

The layered effect is created by mixing in several complementary types of light in your rooms. Consider making the most of ambient light as well as pendants, under-counter lights, task lighting and accent or recessed lights. Top it off with a touch of decorative light (theme fixtures or chandeliers). Go easy on the decorative element.

Energy efficiency and fluorescents According to Better Homes and Gardens (BHG), energy efficient fluorescent and CFL bulbs with "a high color-rendering index" can really add warmth and illuminate the details of a kitchen remodeling or bath addition project.

In fact, a new kitchen lighting scheme can prove a relatively low-cost way to bring an older design to life. You can even use task lights to brighten well-maintained counters or appliances while not casting a beam on older cabinet faces or wear-worn appliances.

Quality fixtures make the difference BHG suggests you choose a fixture that's well-made and durable. Choose sockets that are made of porcelain, rather than chintzy plastic. If it's metal, feel the weight and test the strength. Why choose a cheaper fixture now to cut corners only to have to replace it in a year or less?

I've already written about the strategy for installing a dimmer switch or replacing one that buzzes. Dimmers save energy and help you dial in the lighting in the room. Integrated dimmer systems allow you to create pre-set lighting for each room. Touch dimmers allow you to toggle between frequently used settings. And you can set the traditional manual slide and rotary dimmers by hand as the mood arises.

It's not a bad idea to connect all your remaining incandescent lights in the house to dimmers. Dimmers not only save energy, they can extend the life of your lamp. Recommending this improvement project is a no-brainer.

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