Lighting Tips and Advice Based on Room Type and Use

One of the easiest ways to make your home feel like new again is through changing how you light the different parts of your house. This blog will look at the various aspects that go into how you can turn a dim drab home into one that more aligns with your dreams.

Types of Lighting

Understanding the types of lighting will assist you in determining the aesthetics in which you feel most comfortable. Generally, lighting function falls in one of three categories: ambient, task, and accent. This basic overview comes from the article How to Pick the Best Light Bulb for Every Room.

  • General or ambient lighting acts as the overall lighting of a room. It illuminates all of the room and is considered the room’s “natural light.” You might use a chandelier, pendant light, track lighting or wall sconces to create ambient light that fills the room.
  • Task lighting lights up a work or reading area. You want this lighting to be brighter than your ambient lighting, so the contrast focuses the light in the specified area. Desk lamps and under-cabinet kitchen lights are common task lighting options. But pendants and track lighting can be used for task lighting, too, but it depends on how you layer the lighting in your room, and how bright your bulbs are.
  • Accent lighting highlights a particular area, like a work of art or a bookcase. It usually creates shadow around the object for a dramatic effect. Wall lights and landscape lights are common accent lights.

Bulb Types

Your bulb is your light source, so the type of bulb determines what the light will look like. Different bulbs perform differently, and there are four basic types:

  • Incandescent: These are the traditional bulbs most of us have used for decades, and they’re starting to phase out in favor of more energy-efficient options. They produce a warm, glowing light.
  • Compact florescent bulbs (CFLs): These use 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb. They also last longer. They usually emit a cooler tone, but you can find them in a range of brightness levels and temperatures. It’s worth noting that CFLs do contain mercury, and while the amounts are small, they still require more careful handling and disposal.
  • LEDs: These are just as efficient as CFLs, but they can last up to three times longer. They used to be mostly used for task lighting, because they only provided a harsh, direct light, but like CFLs, they’ve come a long way. They now offer the same look as incandescents, but they’re efficient, less hot to the touch, and last a long time. For these reasons, they can also be more expensive, but there are utility rebates available.
  • Halogen: These give off a bright, white light, similar to natural daylight. Great for task lighting. They also use 10-20 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb.

Lumens Recommended by Room Type

The more lumens, the brighter the bulb. A typical home bulb produces about 800 lumens, which is the equivalent of 60 watts. So how many lumens do you need for each room? The following is a generalized breakdown of recommended levels by room type.

Kitchens: 5,000-10,000 total lumens

Bathrooms: 4,000-8,000 total lumens

Bedrooms: 2,000-4,000 total lumens

Living rooms: 1,500-3,000 lumens

Dining rooms: 3,000-6,000 lumens

Home offices: 3,000-6,000 lumens

Kelvin Temperatures

Beyond brightness, you also want to consider the color temperature of the light. CFLs weren’t great years ago, because they mostly only produced a very blue, cool light. But they’ve come a long way, and you can now find them in warmer, yellower tones. The following is a brief overview of the types of temperature in relation to bulbs and lighting.

  • Soft white/warm white (2700 Kelvins): Best for bedrooms and living rooms; providing a traditional warm, cozy feel to them.
  • Bright white/cool white (4100 Kelvins): Best in kitchens, bathrooms or garages; giving rooms a whiter, more energetic feel.
  • Daylight (5000-6000 Kelvins): Best in bathrooms, kitchens and basements; good for reading, intricate projects, or applying makeup—provides the greatest contrast among colors.

Psychological and Physiological Effects of Light

There have been many studies demonstrating the effects of lighting on various aspects of mood and behavior. The following information came from the article Room-by-Room Interior Lighting Guide: Indoor Lighting Tips.

  • Emotions (both positive and negative) are felt more intensely under bright light.
  • Excessive light at night, including electronic media, can create difficulties sleeping and exacerbate sleeping disorders.
  • Students and workers are healthier, happier, and more productive when there is more natural light (daylighting). “Daylighting also decreases utility costs and improves the well-being of building occupants.”

Studies have also been conducted on rats and other mammals that demonstrates the effect light has on melatonin, which has been found to determine the body’s output of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood, behavior, appetite, sleep, memory, and desire.

Lighting is both an art and a science — it can affect our mood, appetite, and sleep. In order to implement an effective lighting strategy for your home, you will need a professional that fully understands electrical systems and lighting design. Besides the technical knowledge required, the person installing your lighting should also be concerned with mood, aesthetics, safety, and enjoyment.

Tips for Improved Lighting

The following are the top tips by room as specified in the article 19 Secrets for Getting Good Lighting in Every Spot Around Your Home.

General tips for the whole house:

  • Include at least three sources of light in each room: General lighting (overhead or pendant), Specific lighting (task or table), and Ambient lighting (sconces, candles, or decorative).
  • Maximize natural light by keeping your windows clean—it’s cheap, simple, and really does make a difference.
  • Choose the right shade for your fixtures: White shades let more light pass through but can create a colder tone, while colored shades will tint light, making it appear creamier, warmer, or cooler, depending on the hue you choose.
  • Incorporate reflective surfaces into your home; mirrors, glossy floors, and metallic finishes will bounce light around a room.
  • Swap in more decorative lighting for builder-grade fixtures to change the look of your room.

Kitchen:

  • Under-cabinet lighting can be extremely useful. It can illuminate your countertops while you work and can be turned off with the flick of a switch when you need more ambiance.
  • Light the dark corners of your kitchen that include features like shelves, counters, cupboards, and pantries. Areas like these are often neglected, but they become more functional and beautiful when properly lit.
  • Pendant lamps can be a fun and functional option above kitchen sinks, islands, and breakfast nooks. In the first two cases, they can help to illuminate the work triangle, which is where home chefs do their most prep, cooking, and clean up.

Bedroom:

  • Use candles safely for ambiance. Nothing helps to set the mood like a row of tealights in votives or a scented candle on your nightstand.
  • Bedside lamps with warm bulbs are a must. No one wants to leave the comfort of their covers to turn the lights out after reading—or to have to try to find the way back to the bed after flicking the switch at the door.
  • The latest techy alarm clock lights serve as a unique way to wake you up in the morning. They work well with your circadian rhythm by imitating a sunrise and will always feel better than flicking on harsh overhead lights. 

Living Room:

  • Consider scale. Table lamps are great, but sometimes a large lantern, an oversized pendant, or a big sculptural floor lamp can add a focal point that every well-designed room should have
  • Add a dimmer switch to your overheads. This allows you to easily change the mood and brightness of your lighting depending on the time of day. It’s also perfect for making those at home movie nights feel like they’re happening in a legit theater.
  • Make sure to light darker corners. There’s always that one dim spot in the living room that makes it impossible to do anything once the sun goes down. Add a lamp for a subtle glow that’ll instantly cozies up your space.

Bathroom:

Install vanity lighting or lights around your mirrors. When you get ready in the morning, you’ll be thankful for the soft glow that radiates from these types of lights versus the typical harsh overhead lighting that can cast odd shadows.

Opt for daylight-simulating light bulbs. If you’re someone who wears makeup, you’ll be able to see how your face will actually look outside of your home much better than under fluorescent bulbs.

Bring in candles to use for bath time and unwinding. Nothing compares to the soft glow of candlelight, so it’s worth having a few on hand when you’re doing a face mask or taking a bubble bath.

Hallways:

A quick note about hallway lighting from the article The Best Type of Lighting for Every Room in Your House.

As transition areas between rooms, hallways don’t pose as many specific lighting concerns as other spaces. Choose a flush-mount ceiling fixture for inconspicuous light, or attach a few sconces along the wall for indirect lighting. You don’t typically need particularly bright light in hallways, so 5-10 lumens per square foot is generally sufficient.

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All About Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a very common occurrence in older adults. This blog will look at what AMD is and who is most at risk, the two types of AMD and their symptoms, how it is diagnosed, and current treatment options.  Information for this article came from The National Eye Institute, American Academy of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Healthline, and WebMD.

What is AMD and Who is Most at Risk?

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that can blur your central vision. It happens when aging causes damage to the macula — the part of the eye that controls sharp, straight-ahead vision. The macula is part of the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye).

AMD is a common condition — it’s a leading cause of vision loss for older adults. AMD doesn’t cause complete blindness but losing your central vision can make it harder to see faces, read, drive, or do close-up work like cooking or fixing things around the house.

AMD happens very slowly in some people and faster in others. If you have early AMD, you may not notice vision loss for a long time. That’s why it’s important to get regular eye exams to find out if you have AMD.

You are more likely to develop AMD if you:

Having heart disease is another risk factor for AMD, as is having high cholesterol levels. Caucasians (white people) also have an elevated risk of getting AMD.

The Two Types of AMD

The two primary types of age-related macular degeneration are dry and wet and they have different causes:

Dry. This type is the most common. About 80% of those with AMD have the dry form. Its exact cause is unknown, although both genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role. This happens as the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down, generally one eye at a time. The loss of vision in this condition is usually slow and gradual. It is believed that the age-related damage of an important support membrane under the retina contributes to dry age related macular degeneration.

Signs and symptoms of dry macular degeneration:

  • a reduction in central vision
  • a distortion of straight lines in your field of vision
  • the need for brighter lighting
  • difficulty adapting to low lights
  • blurriness
  • trouble recognizing faces
  • retinal damage

Wet. Though this type is less common, it usually leads to more severe vision loss in patients than dry AMD. It is the most common cause of severe loss of vision. Wet AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels start to grow beneath the retina. They leak fluid and blood — hence the name wet AMD — and can create a large blind spot in the center of the visual field.

Some symptoms of wet macular degeneration resemble those of dry macular degeneration, such as visual distortions and reduced central vision.

Other symptoms of wet macular degeneration you may also experience:

  • a blurry spot in your field of vision
  • a dark spot in the center of your vision due to blood vessels bleeding or leaking fluid
  • hazy vision
  • rapidly worsening symptoms

Wet macular degeneration usually progresses more quickly than dry macular degeneration.

How is AMD Diagnosed?

During an eye exam, your ophthalmologist may ask you to look at an Amsler grid. This grid helps you notice any blurry, distorted, or blank spots in your field of vision. Your ophthalmologist will also look inside your eye through a special lens. He or she can see if there are changes in the retina and macula.

Your ophthalmologist will put dilating eye drops in your eye to widen your pupil. This allows him or her to look through a special lens at the inside of your eye.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is another way to look closely at the retina. A machine scans the retina and provides very detailed images of the retina and macula.

Your doctor may do fluorescein angiography to see what is happening with your retina. Yellow dye (called fluorescein) is injected into a vein, usually in your arm. The dye travels through your blood vessels. A special camera takes photos of the retina as the dye travels throughout its blood vessels. This shows if abnormal new blood vessels are growing under the retina.

Treatment Options for AMD

If you have dry macular degeneration, your doctor may also suggest that you work with a low-vision rehabilitation specialist. The National Eye Institute (NEI) sponsored two large studies that examined the role of nutritional supplementation in the disease. The studies are known as Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and AREDS2. Your doctor may recommend that you take eye vitamins in the AREDS 2 formulation.

There’s no cure for macular degeneration. Treatment may slow it down or keep you from losing too much of your vision. Your options might include:

  • Anti-angiogenesis drugs. These medications — aflibercept (Eylea), bevacizumab (Avastin), pegaptanib (Macugen), and ranibizumab (Lucentis) — block the creation of blood vessels and leaking from the vessels in your eye that cause wet macular degeneration. Many people who’ve taken these drugs got back some vision that was lost. You might need to have this treatment multiple times.
  • Laser therapy. High-energy laser light can destroy abnormal blood vessels growing in your eye.
  • Photodynamic laser therapy. Your doctor injects a light-sensitive drug — verteporfin (Visudyne) — into your bloodstream, and it’s absorbed by the abnormal blood vessels. Your doctor then shines a laser into your eye to trigger the medication to damage those blood vessels.
  • Low vision aids. These are devices that have special lenses or electronic systems to create larger images of nearby things. They help people who have vision loss from macular degeneration make the most of their remaining vision.

Researchers are studying new treatments for macular degeneration, but they are experimental. They include:

  • Submacular surgery. This removes abnormal blood vessels or blood.
  • Retinal translocation. A procedure to destroy abnormal blood vessels under the center of your macula, where your doctor can’t use a laser beam safely. In this procedure, your doctor rotates the center of your macula away from the abnormal blood vessels to a healthy area of your retina. This keeps you from having scar tissue and more damage to your retina. Then, your doctor uses a laser to treat the abnormal blood vessels.
  • Clinical Stem Cell Testing: Researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI) are launching a clinical trial to test the safety of a novel patient-specific stem cell-based therapy to treat geographic atrophy, the advanced “dry” form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Should early safety be confirmed, later study phases will include more patients to assess the efficacy of the implant to prevent blindness and restore vision in patients with geographic atrophy.

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Hearing Aid Maintenance

For those that need them, hearings aids can be a lifeline to the world around them. It is important to properly clean and maintain them to extend the life of these expensive littler helpers though. This blog will look at the basics of hearing aid maintenance, cleaning advice by type of hearing aid, and tips to help prevent costly repairs. Information in this blog came from Cleaning your hearing aids, How to Clean and Care for Your Hearing Aids, 4 Hearing Aid Maintenance Tips to Prevent Repairs, and product links from the ILA website.

How to Care for Your Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are a significant investment, so it’s good practice to learn how to clean and maintain them at home.

Get the proper tools: A wax pick and brush are indispensable tools for at-home cleaning. Earwax can accumulate in the opening at the end of a hearing aid where the sound comes out causing muffled sound or feedback (whistling). Left long enough, it can damage the receiver. Use the pick and brush to gently clear wax away.

Establish good habits: Always wash your hands well before cleaning your hearing aids. Leave hearing aids out during your hygiene routine. Shower and wash your face and hair without your hearing aids in so water and soap can’t damage them. Put your aids in after you apply hair products like sprays or gels.

Clean your device at the end of the day: Cleaning your hearing aids before bedtime gives them several hours to air out before you will put them in again. Avoid wipes with chemicals or alcohol when cleaning hearing aids as they could damage the devices.

Avoid extreme heat or cold: If the temperature is below freezing and you take your hearing aids out of your ears to shovel the driveway, leave them inside the house instead of stashing them in your coat pocket. Likewise, if you take your hearing aids out to jump in the pool on the hottest day of the summer, take them inside the house instead of leaving them on a poolside table.

How to Clean Hearing Aids by Type

In the Ear (ITE) Hearing Aid:

Follow the steps below to clean your in-the-ear (ITE) style hearing aid.

  1. Gently brush the microphone cover, receiver, and vent openings to remove wax or debris
  2. Use the wax pick/wire loop to remove stubborn material from the air vent
  3. For larger vents, run a vent cleaner carefully through the opening in each direction
  4. Wipe down the entire hearing aid gently with a soft cloth

Caution: Never use water, alcohol, or chemical wipes to clean an ITE hearing aid.

For a video of a hands-on demonstration see the original article  How to Clean and Care for Your Hearing Aids.

Behind the Ear (BTE) Hearing Aid:

Follow the steps below to clean your behind-the-ear (BTE) style hearing aid.

  1. Gently brush the hearing aid clean
  2. Remove the earmold from the hook for cleaning
  3. Brush the earmold clean, then use the wax pick/wire loop to remove any stubborn debris
  4. Wipe down the hearing aid and earmold gently with a soft cloth

As needed, you can wash the earmold with warm water and soap. Be sure to allow the earmold and tubing to dry completely before reattaching to the hearing aid. DO NOT use chemical cleaners unless they are specially formulated for earmolds.

Tip: Use a bulb blower to force the water out of the tubing to promote quicker drying.

For a video of a hands-on demonstration see the original article  How to Clean and Care for Your Hearing Aids.

Receiver-in-the-Canal (RIC) Hearing Aid:

Follow the steps below to clean your receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) style hearing aid.

  1. Gently brush the hearing aid to remove any debris
  2. Use your thumbs to gently massage the dome tip to push out any stubborn material
  3. Wipe down the entire hearing aid gently with a soft cloth

Replace the dome as needed when it becomes worn or misshapen or if there is a buildup or blockage that can’t be removed.

Caution: Never use water, alcohol, or chemical wipes to clean a RIC hearing aid.

For a video of a hands-on demonstration see the original article  How to Clean and Care for Your Hearing Aids.

Tips to Help Prevent Repairs

Do not expose your hearing aids to moisture. There are a small number of hearing aids that are genuinely waterproof. However, the vast majority of hearing aids are not waterproof. For waterproof hearing aids, it is okay to get them wet. But for most hearing aids, exposure to water or other fluids can be a disaster. That is because if fluids get into the hearing aid, they can damage the electronics within the device. So, you should always be careful not to expose your hearing aids to water unless they are waterproof. If you do get unwanted moisture inside your hearing aids this Renew Hearing Aid Dryer and Freshener is a good option to help dry them out safely and securely. If you are on a budget a less expensive option to rid your hearing aids of excess moisture is the Dri-Eze Hearing Aid Dehumidifier.

Clean earwax out regularly. If you wear your hearing aids for long enough, then wax can accumulate within them. Too much wax in your hearing aids can cause them not to work effectively. To keep your hearing aids performing well, you should clean the wax out of them regularly. You can do this with a wax pic. This Combination Cleaning Tool works great for helping keep the wax accumulation to a minimum.

Store them in a secure location. You should not store your hearing aids on the ground or anywhere else where they can be easily damaged. If you step on your hearing aid or drop it, then that can be enough to damage it. Hearing aid repairs can be very expensive. So, you should store your hearing aids safely in a box or case and then keep them in a drawer or somewhere else that is safe.

Do not use hairspray or similar products while wearing your hearing aids. While you are wearing your hearing aids, it is best to avoid dousing your head with perfume, hairspray or other products. This is because these products can get inside of your hearing aids and cause damage to them. Instead, wait until you are not wearing your hearing aids to use them.

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The Super Bowl: A Brief History and Fun Facts

It’s almost time for the Super Bowl, also known as the Big Game. Did you ever wonder how it all began? What the current costs are for a commercial to air during the game? This blog will look at a brief history of the game, a look at the ads that help drive it, and some fun facts to enjoy while you gear up for any game related events to come. Information in this blog came from Super Bowl History, The History Of Super Bowl Commercials, The Cost of Super Bowl Commercials Over the Years, and How Much Do Super Bowl Commercials Cost In 2022?

History of the Super Bowl

Though the NFL officially formed in 1920, the Super Bowl wasn’t played until more than 40 years later.

In 1960, a group of businessmen who wanted to own football franchises—but were denied by the NFL—launched an alternative league, known as the American Football League (AFL).

The first Super Bowl, which featured the AFL (Kansas City Chiefs) and NFL champion (Green Bay Packers), was played January 15, 1967. The game was originally called the “AFL-NFL World Championship Game.” Later, Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt proposed using the term “Super Bowl” to refer to the championship game.

After the leagues merged, the NFL split into two conferences: the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). The champions of each play in the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl Ads

The first Super Bowl was played in 1967. Back then, it aired on two networks, NBC and CBS. NBC charged companies $75,000 for a 60-second spot, while CBS charged $85,000. A 30-second spot cost $42,000, which is worth about $316,000 today.

In Super Bowl 18, Apple aired their blockbuster ‘1984′ ad. The ad itself cost about $370,000 to produce, but that year, the average 30-second spot cost $525,000. It was a worthwhile investment by Apple, as the commercial was reportedly seen by 85 million people and continues to rank as one of the most famous ads in Super Bowl history.

With a few exceptions, each year has shown a rise in the cost of a Super Bowl commercial, which broke the $1 million mark in 1995. In 2020, FOX Sports raked in $5.6 million per 30-second Super Bowl commercial. That breaks down to $186,666 per second of airtime. You read that right — the cost of an ad in the first Super Bowl couldn’t even buy you one second of airtime at Super Bowl LIV.

The price for a Super Bowl commercial in 2022 has risen again, and by quite a lot — by more than $1 million. This year, the commercial price sits at $6.5 million, and ads were already almost sold out in September 2021.

Fun Facts

This year, 2022, marks the 56th Super Bowl, and with that many years under your belt you’re sure to have a few interesting facts and tidbits.

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots each have six Super Bowl victories—the most of any team. The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers each have five wins.
  • With five defeats each, the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots are tied for most Super Bowl losses.
  • The Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans are the only teams that haven’t played in a Super Bowl.
  • Because the football season runs into two calendar years, Roman numerals are used to identify each Super Bowl.
  • Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest day for food consumption in the United States, with only Thanksgiving ahead of it.

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