Q: I want to improve the lighting and the general appearance of my kitchen without major remodeling. I want it to be inexpensive, yet efficient. What do-it-yourself lighting options do I have?
A: Providing efficient and effective lighting for a kitchen can be somewhat tricky. Kitchen lighting needs vary from very bright for food preparation to dim for dining.
One very attractive and efficient do-it-yourself lighting kit creates an arched kitchen ceiling. It starts about 9 inches below your ceiling at the cabinet tops. Then it tapers up to your existing
ceiling in the center, creating an arched or domed appearance. It is as easy to install as a standard dropped ceiling and makes your kitchen look more modern.
You can mount lights all around behind the translucent dropped area near the cabinets. This provides even and bright light and makes it appear as though the entire ceiling is lighted. You can install several switches to turn on only as many lights as you
A ceiling paddle fan is often mounted in the center of the arch against your existing ceiling. Therefore, it is recessed in the arched area. It circulates cool air in the summer and, reversed in winter, lets the air flows upward. This gently circulates the hot air along the arched ceiling and down to the floor.
Fluorescent lighting, either in wood-trimmed fixtures that mount to your ceiling or in the arched ceiling kit, provides the most efficient light. The light produced by many of the new fluorescent lights approximates standard incandescent light bulbs.
With fluorescent fixtures, you can install "full-spectrum" lights that some people believe reduce winter depression. These fluorescent lights give off a full spectrum of light, similar to natural sunlight.
Another energy-efficient and attractive option is using halogen bulbs. These bulbs are more efficient than conventional incandescent bulbs. You can use dimmer switches with them to vary the lighting intensity.
This is particularly effective with do-it-yourself track lighting that focuses on various areas of your kitchen. Once you install the track, you can snap in just as few or many individual lights as your needs require.
You can direct bright higher-wattage halogen lights toward food-preparation areas. Lower-wattage lights can be directed toward your kitchen table or dining area.
You can write to me for "Utility Bills Update No. 324" listing addresses and telephone numbers of manufacturers of the nTC do-it-yourself arched ceiling lighting kits, full-spectrum fluorescent and halogen lights, and product information and specifications. Include $1.50 and a self-addressed, business-size envelope.
Q: Will you explain why setting my thermostat lower in winter and higher in summer saves energy?
A: You can realize substantial savings by setting your thermostat lower in the winter and higher in the summer. The indoor-to-outdoor temperature difference is the driving force for energy loss or gain. In winter, a house at 75 degrees loses heat faster through the walls than a house at 68 degrees. To maintain a higher indoor temperature, your furnace has to run longer.
Write to James Dulley, c/o Baltimore Sun, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244.