“Light is essential to sight and sight is essential to independence!”

It’s amazing the impact lighting has in our homes and in our lives. It is one of the most important elements in any room, yet it is frequently overlooked or misunderstood. Good lighting can create exciting moods, maximize successful performance of daily tasks, and help create a beautiful energy-efficient home. Our ability to see, and therefore remain independent through the years, is compromised by bad lighting.

Good lighting can make the difference between seeing and not seeing for everyone, especially as we age, and for millions of people with any form of vision impairment. It can make daily living tasks and activities in our homes much easier to perform for everyone, and provide a safer, accident-free living environment. Good lighting will benefit people of all ages and levels of ability, and make a positive difference in our lives.

Vision deterioration for most adults with good eyesight often begins at about age 40. More than 120 million Americans wear corrective lenses. One out of every four children ages 5 to 12 has a vision problem, and more than 92 percent of people age 70 and older wear glasses. With the aging of America, nearly 10 million people may have some form of macular degeneration by the year 2030—more than double the four million-plus already diagnosed with the disorder.

Seeing is Believing

Provide good lighting around the dining room table, where you eat meals, do paperwork, and often read magazines or newspapers. Dimmer switches help control the amount of light needed.

Lighting in our home can have a profound effect on the quality of our life. Proper lighting design can compensate for many age-related and health related changes in the visual system. A 60-year-old needs 4 to 6 times as much “glare-free” light as a normal sighted 20-year-old to perform the same seeing tasks with equal speed, accuracy, and safety.

Lighting also makes a significant contribution to our physical and psychological well- being. Properly designed lighting in our homes will significantly reduce the negative effects of the natural physical changes we all are subjected to as we age, and help increase personal independence, promote well-being, and prevent injuries.

Lighting basics

In general, we should attempt to provide higher levels of energy-efficient, glare-free illumination throughout the entire house including hallways, stairs, and closets. Every area should have good general illumination in addition to task lighting where it’s needed. Natural filtered daylight is a good indirect ambient light source.

The successful development of reasonably priced, high quality, LED lighting has become the most efficient source of artificial illumination suitable for residential use, as it successfully converts electricity to light with much greater efficiency than any other lighting, and generates very little heat, resulting in lower cooling costs which can be a real benefit during summer months. High quality LED lighting products will produce excellent energy-efficient, long lasting light for many years to come.

Lighting Lifetimes

This graph represents the average lifetime of each type of lighting source. Measured in Thousands of Hours.

Changing burned out light bulbs is time consuming and can be a real annoyance. Also, the real and present danger of an unintentional fall from a ladder or chair while removing and replacing burned out light bulbs is dramatically reduced or eliminated by switching to very long life LED lighting. Incandescent light bulbs last about 750 hours, halogens about 2,000, compact fluorescents about 8,000, and full-size rapid start electronic ballast fluorescents around 11,000 hours or less. However, LED lamped or powered light fixtures will last for 45,000 hours or more!

Very long life, cool operation, and substantial energy savings are excellent reasons to use LED light fixtures and LED lamps or “bulbs” whenever possible. Because there are a large amount of substandard imported LED lighting products on the market, it is wise to select and purchase only quality made LED light fixtures and lamps produced by reputable manufacturers such as Philips, Cree, Osram-Sylvania, GE, and Progress Lighting. These brands are most often better made than many other imported types and will most certainly provide long lasting trouble-free life. Select LED lamps in the 3,000 kelvin color temperature which enhances natural skin tones and works great in residential living environments.

Every room or area in the home should have a combination of good general illumination in addition to specific task lighting, including the kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedrooms. Natural indirect or filtered daylight is a good source for supplemental general light. Ceilings should not have shadows, and have good overall illumination.

The way we light our homes can also make a real difference in reducing our utility bills. Energy Star labeled light fixtures meet high standards for energy-efficiency and quality, using less energy without sacrificing performance or design. Plus, they are safe, reliable, and will provide just the right amount of light and color rendition.