How many hours do you spend indoors every day? Hmmm. About eight for work, assuming you work indoors, three for sit down meals, one... or two... or three... for relaxation and recreation, one or two working on things around the house, and a whopping, but optimistic, eight just sleeping. Overall, with your personal variations, you spend about 90 percent of your time under a roof (www.aps.org). So almost 22 of your precious 24 hours are spent indoors. Granted, your summer recreation may subtract a few of those hours from the total, but as much as we dream of it, summer doesn’t last forever.
What does this startling total mean for you? It means you are for the most part being influenced by an indoor environment. The air you breathe, the temperature of the room, the lighting, the space you have to roam, and the people in it are all aspects of your life experience. Perhaps one of the most important is lighting. The amount and type of light you are exposed to on a daily basis can affect your emotional and cognitive ability. In extreme cases, a lack of exposure to light increases the chances of getting Seasonal Affective Disorder, nicknamed winter blues. So what do you do to keep yourself cheerful when so much of your time is spent indoors?
WindowsIf there is a shortage of sunlight in your home, consider adding, or expanding your south-facing windows (assuming you live in the northern hemisphere). Most homes are designed with roof overhangs that already maximize winter sun exposure and minimize summer exposure. Make sure that when you make these adjustments to your home, you take those calculations into account, since they will save you money on your utilities. If you’re concerned about windows allowing too much energy transfer, consider installing triple paned windows. These windows are excellent insulators, and in cold climates are definitely worth the investment.
Your final card is indoor lighting. This is your strongest suit; you may not be able to control the sun in the sky or your employer’s decision to put you in the dark corner office, but you can change the lighting. Bring a cheerful little lamp to work and place it on your desk. Your influence at home is even greater. If you have a dim living room, install new light fixtures. You will be surprised at how much difference a single new light makes.
Comparing Light BulbsThere are many different types of light bulbs that you can use. Traditional incandescent bulbs produce a bright yellow or white light, and add warmth to a room. Fluorescent bulbs are more energy efficient, using between 20 and 40 percent less electricity than incandescents (www.homedepot.com). They produce a white to bluish light, and can be as bright as incandescents. The only drawback is that they do not light a room as instantaneously as incandescents; the gases inside them must be warmed up, so they start out dim. LED lights are also being introduced to the home lighting scene. These are even more energy efficient than fluorescents, using about half the number of watts per unit of light emitted (www.designrecycleinc.com).
Whether you choose to enlarge your windows or set up a new indoor lighting system, increasing your light exposure is a must. Talk to one of our excellent agents to find out what works best for you, your health, and your budget.