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Living Smart: Outdoor Living

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By Angie Hicks

(MCT)—Done right, outdoor lighting makes your home safer, more secure and more attractive.

However, top-rated landscaping lighting experts report that homeowners are spending thousands of dollars on lighting that is focused less on security concerns and more on aesthetics.

Lighting pros illuminated our team with the following list of outdoor-lighting trends:

—Increasing use of low-voltage LED lights to accentuate outdoor focal points, including fish ponds, swimming pools, decks, patios, fire pits and fountains. LED lights use an estimated 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 25 times longer. Some homeowners create theme lighting by using different-colored LEDs on holidays.

—Lamps that use oil or natural gas.

—Fixtures installed in trees, accentuating plantings and flowerbeds.

—Lighting to increase curb appeal. Landscaping lighting designers say that what looks good during the day can look as good, if not better, at night. A lighted water element can look especially pleasing when it’s dark outside.

—Increased concern about reducing excess light that might annoy a neighbor or contribute to “light pollution” that impedes our view of the night sky. The key to minimizing light loss and excess glare is to efficiently use and place fixtures, experts say. Tips include placing lights as close as possible to the house or landscape element, selecting the appropriate size and type of light for the purpose, and angling fixtures so they don’t waste light into the sky or off the property.

Hiring a professional to design and install a landscape project can range from a few thousand dollars to $50,000 or more.

Before you hire a company, check reviews on a trusted consumer site, ask about credentials, training, insurance, licensing, warranties, and contact several references. Ask, too, if the lighting company offers post-installation maintenance and adjustment calls.

Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, a resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care.

©2014, http://www.angieslist.com/
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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