Q. How can I improve the lighting in my kitchen? I’m always preparing meals in the dark?
A. There is a general idea that a big central ceiling fixture will provide all the light needed for cooking, meals and cleaning up. A central overhead light provides good overall lighting, but is a weak light for tasking. Everyone working under that kind of light will be working in their shadow. Under cabinet lighting is a good solution for food preparation because it efficiently illuminates the counter work surface. There are many plug-in varieties of xenon and halogen units that work well for this kind of task illumination.
For island counters, where food is prepared or served, pendants hung to illuminate the entire work surface are also a good solution. Pendants are hanging lights, either on downrods (stems), cords or chain, they can be positioned singly or in groups, just above the task area and light up the surface to make the tasks at hand well lit and enjoyable. Some pendants come in brightly colored glass shades for a contemporary look, or more traditional with faux alabaster glass shades and wrought iron, pewter or bronze finishes.
Q. We have a family room that has two table lamps in the corners of the room and a central overhead fixture. This lighting is not enough for my kids doing homework at the table, or me, reading or knitting on the sofa. What can you suggest?
A. Check to see if you are using the correct wattage in your lamps and replace your lampshades if they are darkened and clouded with age ( over the years this can happen slowly, the shade emitting less light because of deterioration). Again, an overhead fixture is limited in the light it can provide for tasking.
A good alternative is track lights which will provide good downlight to specific areas in the room. Track heads with little spot or flood bulbs can beam lighting down on tasking areas. Floor lamps that have multiple “goosenecks” or adjustable lights that can be directed towards many working areas can adequately illumintate reading and other activities in a multiple areas. Wall sconces placed in work areas provide a pleasant, semi-direct light and enhance ambient lighting.
Q. I’d like to have better light around my house when I come home at night.
A. Low voltage light kits provide good light along driveways and walkways. They come with various lamps and styles with transformers to match. It’s easy to install low voltage lighting–these kits usually consist of a several lights which are on spikes that can be set in the ground and linked with wire which can be placed above ground, buried several inches down in soil, covered with mulch or behind shrubbery. Low voltage (12 volts of current) is safe for children and pets-the voltage is so low it does not present a shock hazard).
The transformer, which converts the standard 120 household volts to 12 volts, is plugged into a regular house exterior or interior outlet. Higher voltage (120 volts) provides the most powerful light for your driveway, walkway and landscape lighting. There is no transformer, wires to the light sources which can be spiked or installed around walkways, driveways, etc. have to be buried at a safe depth because of safety regulations–these will be in the directions for installation.
They are excellent for illuminating a driveway or walkway, showcasing trees, the house or the landscape. Placed strategically, the effects with this 120 voltage landscape lighting are dramatic and provide all the illumination you may require.
Q. My electric bill is too high! What can I do about it?
A. Replacing all of your present incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs will definitely lower your electric bill. CFL’s (compact fluorescent lights) come in many wattages and styles. The CFL technology will expand over the next year to include dim-able bulbs and smaller bulbs in three-ways for lamps. Also, consider dimmers for any room in your house. When a light is dimmed, the wattage is decreased (you save money!) and dimmers present the option of just the right light at the simple slide or dial on the wall switch.
Q. My husband and I have a bathroom with double sinks. I like a lot of light for putting on make up in the morning. My husband likes to shave in the practically in the dark.! He says bright light is only acceptable after a cup of coffee. Right now we have a standard vanity fixture with six bulbs that are too dim for me an too bright for him. What can we do?
A. A dimmer will solve the light adjust ability problem, but only if you use the bathroom at different times. If you use the double sinks at the same time, you should consider separate lighting above each sink –that would require installing separate receptacles and wiring, and then, separate dimmers. You could then have the correct wattage for your applying make-up and your husband could have his preferred lighting for shaving.