Healthy Home Lighting Makes a Difference in Your Home

Lighting in your home can affect your health.

Healthy Home LightingDo you ever think about lighting and how it affects your health? Not only is lighting extremely important in creating a particular atmosphere, but it is also affecting your health. Most people know that healthy home lighting can affect melatonin levels and sleep, but did you know it could also affect cortisol, asthma, and even blood sugar balance? And by the way, if you did not know this: melatonin is some of our best free-radical scavengers and cancer fighting protection.

Last month we discussed lighting geared toward workplaces and discussed the components of lighting. The information in that post is geared toward healthy office lighting, but many of the principles are applicable to healthy home lighting as well. Click here to revisit that office lighting post and review lumens, color temperature and color rendering index.

Keep in mind lower Kelvin temperature is warm and cozy while higher Kelvin values are more like daylight, which is invigorating. The higher the temperature, the more blue is in the light, which increases mental alertness and reduces melatonin.

A Side Note About Melatonin and Sleep

Electronic screens emit blue light which is one of the reasons using technology in the evenings and/or before bed could disrupt your sleep.

Have you been strong-armed into using CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs because you’ve heard they are green and consume less energy? Not so fast. CFL bulbs create dirty power on your wiring system. You could install filters to remove this interference, but these filters are still controversial as they sometimes increase other types of electromagnetic radiation. Plus, the electricity used by the filters would cancel out any type of energy savings offered by CFLs. That’s dealing with normal operation. But what about when you break a CFL bulb? The mercury released actually creates a hazardous waste area! Yikesola. They are very toxic. If — or in our experience when —you break a fluorescent bulb, we recommend you seal off the area, open a window and leave immediately. You can return 24 hours later for clean up after all has settled. Studies show if a fluorescent bulb is broken on carpet, you can never completely remove the mercury. Plus, in our opinion, they are pretty ugly and the light they emit is simply not attractive.

And while we are on the subject of fluorescent lighting, they really are not a healthy source of lighting as they are shown to cause migraine headaches ( and eye disease (

Conventional wisdom on “green” lighting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. What do we do?

Remember those good ole incandescent bulbs? Yep those! They work just fine, the light is good and they don’t cause health issues. In the home, standard incandescent bulbs are great! LED lighting is another option. LEDs are generally better than CFL bulbs, but consider these two things:

  1. Some are worse than others, but our friends at Healthy Building Science have done some testing ( and it appears that CREE LEDs are best.
  2. Be aware of Line Voltage vs. Low Voltage. “What?” you might say. Line voltage is the standard voltage found in outlets and junction boxes (examples include lamps, and most ceiling fixtures) while low voltage uses a transformer to step the voltage down from 120 volts to 12 volts.

Many recessed can lights are low voltage, as are task lighting, desk lighting and LED strips. Do we love having this kind of lighting for working or just creating a mood? Of course we do! However, it comes at a price, and that price is magnetic fields. If you choose this type of lighting, place the driver/transformer away from locations where you spend a lot of time

Well friends, there’s still a chill in the air where we are, so w’re headed to light our EcoSmart non-toxic bioethanol fire. We have to admit fire light might be our favorite source of lighting!

Cheers to living healthy!

Healthy Office Lighting: It Can Improve Workplace Productivity!

Healthy Office Lighting - tips and guidelinesHealthy office lighting is important.

As health trends continue to permeate the office and our working environment, one area not given much attention is lighting. Clearly we love what lights do to create an atmosphere. Although office design trends today tend toward open spaces with more aesthetic natural lighting, artificial lighting is a necessity in an office. If you can’t use 100% natural light, let’s at least make sure it’s healthy office lighting.

Lets quickly review some of the fundamentals of healthy lighting.

Most people think in terms of brightness, however, there are other factors to consider in addition to brightness.

Brightness. This important quality of lighting is measured in lumens. A 60-watt incandescent bulb has a brightness of 800 lumens.

Color Temperature. The second piece is color temperature measured in Kelvin: 2000K – 3000K is warm light which is cozy and inviting; 3100K – 4500K is cool white light which is bright and vibrant; and 4600K – 6500K is more like sunlight/daylight and is invigorating. By adding more blue light, this number can increase beyond 6500K.

Color Rendering Index. The final component is Color Rendering Index (CRI) and means the lights ability reveal the color spectrum in the same way natural light does. The higher the number, the fuller the spectrum and these numbers range from 1-100.

Natural light is best…

As we all know, offering as much natural light as possible in an office is best. In fact, a study published in Health Environments Research and Design Journal reported nurses exposed to natural lighting experienced lower blood pressure, better moods, increased alertness and better cognitive performance. And, a study conducted in Britain showed that windows were the number one determinant of worker satisfaction with the building.

Of course we know that abundant natural light is not always possible in an office environment, so what to do? The next best thing is to utilize lighting components to “simulate” natural lighting. Combining color temperature of 5000K or more and a CRI of between 80 and 90 is how this simulated natural lighting is generally accomplished.

Information also shows that adding blue to light can increase work performance, support mental acuity, and create a happier more productive employee. A UNC article says adding blue to lighting creates great brainstorming areas whereas warmer tones might be best for areas in an office like conference rooms and break rooms.

And finally, how much brightness is optimal?

Brightness is often a personal preference in workspaces. But a general rule of thumb is to ensure there is at least 215 lux at 30” above the finished floor, which is generally desk height. If you start there, it’s a good foundation for making any other smaller adjustments for the differences in personal taste or the requirements of specific tasks.

Clearly, lighting can impact employee health and productivity.

That being said, any improvements in your workforce are going to make a difference. We like to think of it in terms of the 3/30/300 Rule. If you spend $3 per square foot on utilities, you will spend $30 per square foot on facilities and $300 per square foot on the people in the building. Without a doubt, spending money on your employees is the biggest bang for your buck. And healthy office lighting is a hinge between your utilities, your facilities and your people.

As J.W. Marriott said so perfectly, “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers, and your business will take care of itself.”