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Re: Translucent Bars
You can use the Xposed Framework if your device is rooted. See this thread: [Guide] Getting started with Xposed Framework
As for using other launchers, you shouldn't see a significant increase in battery usage. I've used Apex, Nova, ADW, Action, Aviate, and other launchers, and the only battery drain I noticed corresponded directly with media-rich widgets or location/network access (for example, in Aviate) — which is to be expected. I think that, at least in some cases, those reporting increased battery usage after switching to a third-party launcher are actually seeing the result of interacting with their launcher in different ways (after all, most launchers have different features and options).