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[This message has been edited by rpxlpx (edited January 17, 2001).]
I frankly think you are over-thinking the problem. Heat from normal light bulbs or fans really is not a problem, even if you are away. Also, reading lights should be BRIGHTER than normal lights, not dimmer (the "dim but enough to read by" comment). Reading under low lighting conditions strains your eyes and adds to any eye problems. Thus, specially-marketed "reading" bulbs/lamps are brighter, not dimmer.
The only advantage I can think of with low voltage lights is that they just have fewer Code restrictions (because of the lower voltage) and are thus more flexible than full voltage lighting; that's the only benefit. They also can use smaller filaments, and thus smaller bulbs, thereby creating a different "look:" pinpoint halogen lights instead of big honkin' incandescents. I plan to install them in my Kitchen to create a more contemporary look.