When considering home safety while you are miles away, use motion-activated lighting. This type of light fixture turns on when a sensor detects motion — a feature that helps protect against intruders.
Today, decorative lantern-style fixtures automatically light up otherwise dark porches and patios. A motion-activated sensor also can be retrofitted to most existing light fixtures and many are affordable and easy to install.
If you have a large area that requires much light and you want to accomplish it with a single fixture, a high-pressure sodium or mercury security light will do the trick. These fixtures pack a lighting punch. For example, a 70-watt sodium security light will illuminate more than 8,500 square feet, provide 6,300 lumens of light, and last up to 12 times longer than a standard incandescent par floodlight. Add a built-in photo control and the light will automatically turn on at dusk and turn off at dawn with no timers or switches.
Lighting upgrades shouldn't be limited to the exterior. You can improve safety and discourage prowlers by installing motion-activated lighting and timers inside, as well.
During the winter, timers are still another means of improving safety, security and comfort. You can come home to a lit home without keeping lights on all day. A standard wall switch can be replaced with a digital timer that will turn interior or exterior lighting off at predetermined times. What's more, this style of switch will allow for random settings that give your home a lived-in look while you are away. A plug-in timer for a table lamp can also create the illusion of an occupied home and keep would-be intruders away. Timers are inexpensive and easy to install.
Besides providing improved safety and security, motion-activated switches and timers are highly energy efficient — especially if you have youngsters who frequently forget to turn lights off.