Install a security light
A small upgrade that made a big difference in our backyard was adding a motion-sensing security light. In the past, we'd had difficulty finding our way to the back door whenever we returned home in the dark. Now, as soon as you step within its range, a light illuminates the way, making it a safe and stumble-free passage. You'll find these lights in a variety of styles at lighting stores and home centers. Some are smart, good-looking units that coordinate nicely with porch and entry lights; others are basic and utilitarian.

An electrician will charge $64 to replace an existing outdoor light with a basic motion-sensing unit, which includes the labor and material. If you're comfortable doing electrical work, you can buy the light for $40 and install it yourself, saving 38 percent. You'll need basic electrical tools to do the job: a screwdriver, pliers, wire stripper/puller and inductive voltage tester.

The cost to run a new line from a main electrical panel will be considerably more, and will depend on the distance between the panel and the light. Running a new line is definitely a job for an electrician, not a homeowner, no matter how handy he or she is.

To find more DIY project costs, and to post comments and questions, visit and on smartphones.

Pro Cost -- DIY Cost -- Pro time -- DIY Time -- DIY Savings -- Percent Saved

$64 -- $40 -- 0.9 -- 1.5 -- $24 -- 38 Percent