Bright Ideas — Lighting Your Media Room

With football season about to kick off and baseball winding down toward the playoffs, you want to make sure your viewing room is comfortable.

One thing you might want to consider while planning your perfect entertainment space (and that many overlook) is proper lighting.

According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), good lighting can significantly enhance movies and sports watching, while poor lighting can be a distraction.

“Lighting,” says Joe Rey-Barreau, education consultant for the ALA and an associate professor at the University of Kentucky’s School of Interior Design, “is especially important and tricky in media rooms.”

Lighten Up to Combat SAD Symptoms

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Now that the days are getting shorter, the reduction in natural daylight makes many feel glum. For those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the symptoms of depression are more acute at this time of year. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), there are some things homeowners can do to counteract the effects of SAD.
It’s clear people need bright days and dark nights, a finding confirmed by a report by the Lighting Research Center in New York. Consumers might have seen “light boxes” promoted as a solution; however, using a light box is not a do-it-yourself project.
“It’s easy to use the light boxes improperly,” says Terry McGowan, director of engineering and technology for the ALA. “Light therapy — just like any other drug or treatment regimen — should be prescribed by a physician. Part of that ‘light prescription’ will involve how much light, when it’s to be provided, and for how long.”
McGowan’s research and concern about combatting the symptoms of SAD are personal as well as professional. “My wife is affected by SAD,” he reveals. “We live in northern Ohio, which has many cloudy days and weeks of gloomy weather during November and December. In the dining room and kitchen, the use of indirect lighting brightens the room and supplements the daylight through skylights and large windows.”
There are some options regarding light bulbs that can help, in addition to natural light. Brian Creeley, director of residential sales for light bulb manufacturer Bulbrite, suggests switching out standard incandescent bulbs with versions that mimic the effects of “full spectrum lighting, leaving you with lighting that has the same effect that you get from sunlight.”
These specialty bulbs are readily available at ALA-member lighting stores. If an existing home or condo doesn’t have much natural daylight, McGowan offers these tips to brighten rooms:
* Maximize any available morning daylight.
* Use light colors for room surfaces.
* Use high-reflectance white paint for the ceiling.
* Incorporate an indirect light source into your room.
* Use accent and spot lights to add focus on plants, decorations or feature areas, creating an effect similar to sunshine and shadows.
A visit to a nearby ALA-member lighting showroom for professional consulting will result in a personally tailored solution. For more details, visit www.AmericanLightingAssoc.com.

Brighten Up Your Home to Combat SAD

Now that daylight savings time has ended for this year, the days are getting shorter, and the reduction in natural daylight makes many feel glum. For those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the symptoms of depression are more acute at this time of year. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), there are some things homeowners can do to counteract the effects of SAD.

It’s clear that people need bright days and dark nights, a finding confirmed by a report by the Lighting Research Center in New York. Consumers might have seen “light boxes” promoted as a solution; however, using a light box is not a do-it-yourself project.

Brighten Your Kitchen With a Few New Fixtures and Dimmers

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – The high “price tag” on groceries and gas do not have to put a damper on your plans to remodel your kitchen this year. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), just merely changing out the decorative lighting fixtures over the breakfast nook or center island can have a big visual impact, creating a fresher, more up-to-date look — and it is considerably less expensive than replacing the cabinets or countertops.
If your kitchen’s only source of lighting is from recessed cans, consider adding a few fixtures to serve as aesthetic and functional focal points in the room over the casual eating area and/or the island. To make all your lighting as efficient, effective and attractive as possible, dimmers are a must-have update.
“The greatest benefit of installing dimmers in an existing kitchen is that the quality of the resulting light will inevitably appear much more comfortable and flexible than what you had before,” explains Joe Rey-Barreau, education consultant for the ALA and an associate professor at the University of Kentucky’s School of Interior Design.
Todd Phillips of Quoizel, a leading lighting manufacturer, keeps track of the latest trends in kitchen design. “Transitional is still the operative word,” says Phillips. “What’s popular right now is what I would describe as Cleaned Up Americana. This is representative of the classic, familiar shapes and elements we all recognize, but with a bit sleeker appearance and on-trend finishes such as bronze and brushed nickel.”
“Handcrafted, hand-forged designs are also gaining in popularity,” Phillips continues. “The key word is clean. Finishes are still neutral, simple and clean. Along with beige, white, bronze and brushed chrome, I’m starting to see more polished chrome. I also find the more custom designs are a bit bolder in their use of color in the kitchen and in the lighting,” he adds.
For help selecting the most appropriate, efficient and economical decorative lighting for your décor, visit an ALA-member lighting showroom. To find your closest showroom and to learn more about the latest lighting styles, visit www.AmericanLightingAssoc.com or call 800-BRIGHT IDEAS (800-274-4484).

Decorate to Make Your Holidays Shine

We all have a neighbor who goes overboard with the novelty Christmas lights around the holidays, but what if you want a more subtle, sophisticated approach to herald the season? The American Lighting Association  (ALA) offers some proven tips for holiday decorating with refined style, inside and out.

“Decorating for the holidays doesn’t always have to be sparkles and glitz,” says Bruce Hathaway, national sales manager for the Vermont-based lighting manufacturer Hubbardton Forge. “Sometimes a little understatement goes a long way.

Create an Outdoor Resort in Your Backyard

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – This year, many people will spend vacations at home instead of traveling. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), with a few updates to your outside lighting, you can enjoy a mini vacation at home. Believe it or not, it’s easier and less expensive than you might think to transform your existing patio, deck or pool area into a lovely retreat. Rather than buying a costly designer patio set or lounge chairs that will lose their luster by next season, invest in a new lighting scheme that will enhance your existing outdoor furniture and amenities.
“Creating a beautiful landscape doesn’t have to be expensive,” says Rick Wiedemer of Hinkley Lighting. “A few well-placed, low-voltage path or accent lights can make a huge impact on a well-manicured landscape.” No lawn is too small. “Even modest homes or those with limited yards or gardens can benefit,” he says.
All that is needed are some basic tools, a transformer (which reduces standard 120-volt household current to the safe 12-volt level), outdoor low-voltage copper cable and low-voltage lighting fixtures — all of which you can find at your local ALA-member lighting showroom.
“The best thing about using low-voltage lighting outdoors is you don’t have to do everything at once. I recommend purchasing a transformer that is larger than you immediately need,” says Lew Waltz of Philips Hadco. That way, when you are ready to install additional lighting, the larger transformer will already be in place and ready to handle the task. “You only pay for the energy consumed by the fixtures,” says Waltz. “In other words, a 600-watt transformer that only has 200 watts of fixtures on it, uses 200 watts of energy, not 600.”
When laying out your project, remember that a little light goes a long way outdoors. Consulting with a lighting professional at your local ALA-member lighting showroom can help you avoid making the common mistake of too many fixtures in one area. To find more information about lighting all areas of your home, go to www.AmericanLightingAssoc.com.

Turn Your Backyard Into an Outdoor Resort

This summer many people will spend vacation time at home instead of traveling. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), with a few updates to your outside lighting, you can enjoy a mini vacation at home. Believe it or not, it’s easier and less expensive than you might think to transform your existing patio, deck or pool area into a lovely retreat. Rather than buying a costly designer patio set or lounge chairs that will lose their luster by next season, invest in a new lighting scheme that will enhance your existing outdoor furniture and amenities.

Lighting Can Be Your Eyes’ Best Friend As You Age

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – One out of every 20 Americans over age 50 is diagnosed with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). The worst part of this reality is that most people with PAD don’t experience any symptoms. PAD is dangerous, especially when there are no warning signs.
Peripheral Arterial Disease is a progressive disease commonly called clogged arteries in the legs, poor circulation or a hardening of the arteries.
People have PAD when the arteries in their legs become narrowed or clogged with fatty deposits, or plaque. The buildup of plaque causes the arteries to harden and narrow, which is called atherosclerosis. This reduces blood flow to the legs and feet.
The severity of the disease depends on how early it’s diagnosed as well as pre-existing health issues. PAD’s primary symptom is an intermittent cramping of leg muscles during walks or hikes. For some, the pain may feel more like numbness, weakness or heaviness. Whether or not you have symptoms, having PAD means that you’re at a higher risk for heart attack, stroke and even death.
Many people don’t get tested for PAD because they have no symptoms and never feel a thing. The good news is that proper treatment saves lives. If you’re over 50, talk to your health care provider about getting tested for PAD.
The test for PAD is called the “ABI” or ankle-brachial index. It’s a comparison of blood pressure measurements taken at the arms and ankles. It can also assess the severity of the disease.
Despite the presence or lack of symptoms, individuals are their own first line of defense. When face time with actual doctors is limited, it’s helpful to have a list of prepared questions on hand.
The Vascular Disease Foundation (VDF), a non-profit dedicated to public awareness and education regarding vascular health, has compiled some questions to ask doctors about PAD:
* Does my medical history raise my risk for PAD?
* What can I do to reduce my blood sugar level if it’s too high or if I have diabetes?
* What do you recommend to quit smoking?
For more information, or to get a free Heart and Sole kit, go to www.vdf.org or 1-866-PADINFO (1-866-723-4636).

Eco-Friendly Tips to Lower Energy Bills

During the intense summer heat, the wonderful coolness of our air-conditioned homes is comforting until the whopping energy bill arrives. The American Lighting Association (ALA) offers the following easy ways to use less energy and save money.

Replace bulbs with CFLs

Switch out incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent versions. According to Joe Rey-Barreau, education consultant for the ALA and an associate professor at the University of Kentucky’s School of Interior Design,  a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) can provide the same amount of light as an incandescent by using only one-quarter of the electricity.

From Man Cave to Kid Cave: Get the Most out of Your Home Theater

The term “home theater” used to mean a small room designated for the enjoyment of watching movies. Then gigantic flat screens and HD technology came along, and the video game industry upped the ante with Xbox, PlayStation, and Wii products that appealed to every age group. With so many different uses, the home theater has morphed into an auxiliary family room. How can one room be made flexible enough to suit all of the activities performed there?  Easy! According to the American Lighting Association (ALA) all you need to do is make a few tweaks in your lighting to satisfy the sports fan, the electronic game player and the movie buff.