By Bill McCracken
Why is it some homes and businesses seem so much more welcoming than others?
The design of the building is one factor. Lighting is the other.
The number and type of lighting, plus how it is positioned, all contribute to generating an ambiance.
In homes, directed lighting above counter-tops eliminates shadows from ceiling fixtures and features wall paintings. Lighting makes a significant difference.
Lighting design has come a long way in the last 25 years. Flourescent lights have been popular in commercial settings for a long time, and advanced technologies make them attractive in homes as well.
Four barriers once prevented these lights from being embraced by residents. The price for compact fluorescents has dropped dramatically and they flicker a lot less because they operate at about 250 times the frequency.
Both the higher frequency and better ability to diffuse the light reduce headaches and eye-strain. Lastly, the colour renderings have been improved. Their colour spectrum has gone from about 60 per cent to more than 80 per cent of the visible colour spectrum.
Manufacturers are also better labelling their lights so consumers can choose according to their taste. Most bulbs or tubes range in colour between 30 kelvin (warmer, more yellow) and 50 kelvin (cooler, bluer).
If you suffer from headaches, it is wise to experiment with your lights. Glare from cheap fixtures may be a culprit. In daylight, one could wear a hat to reduce the glare. Better lighting does this for you by reflecting or diffusing the light to reduce that glare. Spending more for a higher-quality fixture is worth the investment.
Florescent lights are about 80 per cent more efficient than incandescent bulbs – more than doubling their own efficiency in the last 25 years. And, they now last four times longer.
As a result of the greatly lowered temperatures, much higher efficiencies, and improved designs of modern lights, the energy savings are considerable and the atmosphere can be improved.
Bill McCracken is a retired B.C. Hydro employee and a board member of Energy Solutions for Vancouver Island.