Interior Lighting

A house sitting in the dark all evening tells a prowler that no one is home. So does a light burning in the living room window all day. Timers are an inexpensive and effective way to solve the problem- and not just when your family is on vacation.

Program a Light in the main living area to come on at night fall and shut off at bedtime for overall safety and security. And, program a key outdoor light to come on at dusk. That way, no one ever comes home to a dark house.

Think Strategically when setting timer for vacation. A single living room lamp that comes on at dusk and goes off at dawn every day won't fool someone who's watching the house. Set lights to go on and off in different rooms at different times throughout the evening. If you have a multi-day timer, set it so your lights come on at different times each night. (This is also a good idea if you're often away from home in the evening.) Some timers allow for randomized settings: The light comes on, for example, at 7:00 one evening, 7:20 the next, and 7:12 on the third night. Anyone watching the house will see a varied pattern and not the consistent pattern which hints that your home's unoccupied.

Assess interior lighting from the exterior of your house. Turn the lights on, and then go outside to see what effect the lighting creates. For example, a row of blazing track lights near an uncurtained window can emphasize the emptiness of the house.

 

Sensors

The ultimate convenience to have something turn lights on and off in response to specialized conditions. For these lights, sensors work best.

Screw-in photoelectric sensors. Installed in a lamp, photo sensors turn lights on at dusk, off at dawn. Use an indoor/outdoor model in a post light to illuminate a walkway or driveway all night.

Plug-in photo sensor. Plug a lamp into this type of sensor for all-night lighting indoors-a good choice for an enclosed porch.

Motion sensor wall switch.  Get the light-on-demand convenience indoors with a wall-mounted motion sensor switch. Install one at or just inside the entrance from the garage or driveway. The light will stay on as long as someone is in the room or if you flip the switch.

Motion sensor with flood-lights. Mounted under eaves, in front of the garage, or by a door, a motion sensor trips a light only when something comes within its range, then turns off after a preset amount of time. Many models have an override switch so you can turn the lights on manually too. This is a good choice for any outdoor location.

 

Timers

You'll find timers galore at your local hardware store or home center. To give you an idea of the range of features, here are a few examples:

Standard plug-in timer. This type allows you to set just one or two on and off times per day. They are inexpensive and easy to program. Look for models that randomize daily on-off times by a few minutes. Use for living room and bedroom lamps.

Heavy-duty timer.

If you need more on-off options, and/or controls for electronic equipment (radio or TV) or appliances, choose a heavy-duty timer. With a digital model, times are set to the minute. Some allow for a slight randomization and some models have a battery backup so if the electricity goes out, the settings are kept.

Wall-switch timer. Use a wall-switch timer to control exterior door and other outdoor lights. For added convenience, choose a model with battery backup and manual override features.