A light switch is a pretty basic electrical connection. But if you want more control and more options, you might consider replacing a standard switch with something more versatile. Here are some great options you might want to take a closer look at.

Just changing out an older-style switch to one of the new, wider switches can give your home a quick update.

Probably the most common “alternative” switch is the dimmer. It’s come a long way from the original “turn” switches. Most are sliding switches now, but work on a wider variety of bulbs and look a whole lot better.

There also are timer-switches that will shut the lights off by means of a built-in timer. These are perfect for families who are really bad about turning lights off when they are no longer needed. There are also timer switches that can be programmed, giving you better security in a variety of situations.

Motion-detector-switches are great and will turn lights on when you enter a room and off when you leave. This is great for busy families, small children or people who can’t reach switches easily.

Companies are always coming up with new designs, too, so check your hardware store periodically and see what’s new.

When it comes to doing the electrical work, it’s fairly easy if you follow the package directions to the letter. Most of these alternative switches come packaged with instructions that have lots of illustrations – thank goodness! Just take proper precautions by cutting the power to the circuit before beginning, and double-check your connections before turning it back on.

If you are unsure of what you are doing, call in a pro. These are easy changes for them to make and shouldn’t cost a lot.

Your life could become a lot easier just by switching a switch!


Q: How can I clean an old butcher block island without destroying the “old” look? What will work to sanitize it and protect it? – C.M.

A: Wash it down with bleach and water to kill bacteria and germs. After it’s dry, sand it smooth. Wipe the dust away and use a food-grade wood oil. Your hardware store should carry this. That’s all you really need to do to bring it back to life. Do this every year, and it will last for a very long time!


Q: My dishwasher works pretty well, but it stinks. What might be causing this, and is there anything we can do to get rid of the bad smell? – E.D.

A: Check the bottom of the inside of the dishwasher to make sure there is no food or foul water collecting there. This can be cleaned out, and might be an indication that your pump might not be working correctly. Clean out your kitchen sink drains, too. If you have a food disposal, place ice and baking soda in it and turn on the water and the disposal to clean out the inside of it. All of this should be done monthly.


Before painting your wall with a new color, you probably want to paint a couple of large test swatches on the wall to decide which looks best.

Sure Swatch is a peel-and-stick, DIY Paint Swatch that will let you do this without the mess of actually painting your wall. Plus, it gives you the ability to move it from place to place if you need to. The 9-inch-by-12-inch low-tack, paintable clear film is painted and then placed on your wall for the final voting from family and friends.

It’s easy to remove when you have made your final decision. Check it out at and see the clever how-to video.

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