Guest Author - Carol M. Olmstead
Beginning in 2012, the US will phase out incandescent lightbulbs, turning the once-easy task of changing a lightbulb into a complex choice, especially if you want to keep your lighting Feng Shui friendly. The US Congress passed legislation that requires the phase out beginning with 100-watt standard incandescent bulbs in 2012. Ultimately, the law requires that all lightbulbs must be 70% more efficient by 2020. The usual replacement for the traditional incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), does use less energy and lasts longer. However the harsh light that CFLs cast is certainly not Feng Shui friendly. Other than hoarding traditional incandescent lightbulbs, is there anything you can do to find Feng Shui friendly bulbs once the new law takes effect? I have talked with Feng Shui colleagues and interior designers, and come up with these available options.
CFLs. I have heard from many people who have already made the switch to all CFLs and regret it, because they are suffering from headaches from the harsh lighting, not to mention the unflattering light these bulbs cast in all rooms. Other disadvantages are that CFLs can take a while to fully illuminate and only a few of them work with dimmers. Plus, the presence of toxic mercury in CFLs poses problems when the bulbs break or when they eventually burn out and reach landfills. The "twister" shape is not very attractive in fixtures where the bulb is exposed, and their light can be harsh and unforgiving.
Halogens. A better Feng Shui choice, halogens are a type of incandescent. Halogen bulbs are omnidirectional, which means they throw light in all directions, making them good for a table lamp or a chandelier. Inspired by the original Edison bulb with an exposed fire-like filament, these bulbs produce light waves on the warmer end of the color spectrum -- orange, red, yellow -- making them a good choice for similarly warm colored rooms, but a poorer choice for rooms decorated in blues or grays. Some manufacturers are beginning to produce energy efficient incandescent bulbs with halogen technology. But these halogens need to be handled carefully because they run hotter than traditional incandescents, and they shouldn't be used if the outer coating is scratched. Halogen bulbs work with dimmers, contain no mercury, and don't flicker or create electromagnetic fields (EMFs).
LEDs. Another good Feng Shui choice, light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs now come in a few standard bulb shapes for home lighting. LEDs are unidirectional, throwing light in only one direction, and they emit only low light levels. LEDs are costly, especially those that work with dimmers. The quality of LED lighting, even the "soft white" type, is noticeably cooler than halogen. LEDs work well for recessed lights or lamps that spotlight artwork, but this single-focus light is a problem for standard shaded lamps.
Choosing Feng Shui appropriate lighting for different rooms will continue to present new challenges as incandescent bulbs are phased out and newer bulbs are developed. Here are a few suggestions for choosing lighting from the availalbe options --
On the night tables in your bedroom try the warm light of halogens, especially since some research suggests you might sleep better without the blue light waves of LEDs. In the bathroom, where diffuse lighting works best, globe-shaped halogens are recommended. Food prep in the kitchen requires direct light on specific areas, so consider LEDs to replace the bulbs in the recessed ceiling fixtures. For the lights on a dimmer in your dining room, halogens will work best. You could fill a multi-bulb chandelier with LEDs, but it will be costly. For overhead lighting or to light up artwork in your living room choose the focused beam of LEDs.
The law does not apply to fluorescent tube lights, three-way bulbs, and other specialty lights. I always recommend to my Feng Shui clients that they replace overhead fluorescent tubes with full spectrum lighting, especially in offices.
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