Developing an outdoor space that is not only beautiful, but energy efficient is no longer a challenge. Whereas in years gone by, people often felt they had to forego adding lighting to their landscapes for fear of increased electricity costs, today there are many options that make outdoor lighting a possibility for most homeowners, regardless of budget.

First, begin by planning your outdoor lighting requirements. You’ll want to map out how best to draw attention to your back or front yard’s most beautiful features. Do you want to highlight a particularly unique tree? A spectacular arrangement of flowers? A tranquil swinging chair?

Also, think about what security features you want to add to your home, like lighting for your entrances. By carefully planning security lighting, you can ensure that your home is not only safer against theft attacks, but also attractive to look at.

Once you’ve roughed out the necessary places for your outdoor lighting, you can go about choosing fixtures that will meet your needs. To get energy-free fixtures, choose ones with small solar cells that collect solar energy during the day and then run your lights at night.

To get the most out of these fixtures, you’ll want low-voltage bulbs. LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are a great option since they’re even more efficient than CFLs (compact fluorescent bulbs), and work well outdoors, even in cold weather. Another option is high-pressure sodium lamps, which work well for larger areas requiring illumination, like barns. ENERGY STAR rated bulbs are a good choice, too since they’ve been tested to meet certain government energy efficiency standards.

In your planning, also consider the possibility of choosing fixtures with solar cells. These little electronic devices measure the light levels outdoors, making sure not to turn the lights on until the light levels are low enough. This will prevent you from wasting energy when there’s still enough ambient light.

And finally, opt for motion detectors for areas that don’t require constant lighting. This option controls whether the light is on or off based on whether the area is occupied. When people are nearby and motion is detected, the lights come on, and then shut off after a specified period of time. This saves you energy and cuts down on unnecessary light pollution.

Of course, we also always recommend using Dark Sky Compliant fixtures to minimize light trespass—for the benefit of your next door neighbors, as well as for the benefit of wildlife in your area.