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How to brighten up the dark days

As the days get shorter this time of year, indoor lighting can make a difference to your mood. Luckily, there are ways we can have bright light with less impact on our overall energy use. Install motion activated lights by your garage or driveway so you dont have to remember to turn them on and off. If you usually get home after dark you can put a table lamp on a timer so it will turn on just before you get home rather than leaving it on all day. For holiday lighting there are more and more efficient choices on the market. The larger bulbs that come 25 to a string use four to seven watts per bulb and that adds up quickly. The popular mini-lights are much better, using just 0.4 watts per bulb. Even though there are more bulbs per string, they still add up to less energy used. The best type of all, though, are the newer LED (light emitting diode) bulbs. They last years longer than conventional mini lights and use only 0.04 watts per bulb compared with 0.4 watts per mini bulb. They are extremely bright and last much longer than mini-lights. They may cost a little more up front but they'll quickly pay for themselves by saving you energy and replacement costs. If you like to put artificial candles in your windows look for the newer CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs. They come in all shapes and sizes now and use 75 percent less energy than conventional bulbs. For outdoor lights, consider using an inexpensive timer so you can have the lights on for a set amount of time. Make sure the timer labeled for use outdoors. For more information about holiday lighting and other energy-saving tips visit www.GetEnergySmart.org or call 1-877-NY-SMART. Amy Ivy is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. CCE offices may be reached in Clinton County at 561-7450 and Essex County at 962-4810. More information may be found on-line at ecgardening.cce.cornell.edu or by sending an e-mail to a Master Gardener volunteer at askMG@cornell.edu.

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