The Importance of Shopping Local and Supporting Small Businesses
Often the reason business owners decide to branch out on their own is because they feel as though they can offer a better service or product than what is currently available, because of this there are so many benefits to shopping local and supporting small businesses.
We’ll delve deeper into a couple of those benefits and also talk about the different ways you can show your support.
A Better Shopping Experience
In today’s fast-paced world, online shopping is the preferred method of shopping. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s cheaper however it completely eliminates human interaction. When you shop in store, you’re getting the desired product and/or service as well as an experience. The character of the business will often reflect the owner’s personality and by choosing to visit the store, you’re not only giving yourself the opportunity to get to know the person behind the service and/or product but you’re also giving them the opportunity to get to know you. Often, you’ll find employees will happily take the time to listen to your needs and find you the best solution because they care (and not just about your money) which is difficult to say about larger corporations with monthly sales targets determined by an interstate head office.
Strengthen the Local Economy
When you shop local, it comes back to full circle. Let’s break that down, shall we? By spending money, you’re creating demand. By creating a demand, there is an increased need for jobs. With an increased need for jobs, there are lower unemployment rates and lower unemployment rates lead to more people having a disposable income. That disposable income will (hopefully) be spent locally which then creates more demand and starts the cycle all over again.
It’s simple, when you shop local – you’re investing in your community.
So, how can you support local and small businesses?
Spend money, of course – particularly important during the holiday season! However, if you are unable to do so here are a couple of other ways to show your support for free.
Talk to your friends and family, share a Facebook or Instagram page or leave a positive review for others to see.
Educate Yourself Research the local businesses in your area and make some time to go see what they have to offer.
Unfortunately, owning a business is tough these days. Online shopping and large franchises pose bigger and bigger issues to business owner’s every day. So remember that when you support a local or small business – you’re supporting local people, local jobs and someone’s dream.
The Effects of Natural Lighting vs Artificial Lighting
Light is emitted via two different sources – natural and artificial. The sun is the primary source of natural light, while light globes are the primary source of artificial light. There has long been an awareness about the effects that lighting has on the human body, and now science is alerting us to the vast impact that light has on our physiological, psychological and emotional wellbeing.
So `when choosing how to light your home or office, a lot of consideration needs to be put into it. To stay healthy, alert and productive, people need to have regular circadian rhythms and keep to a constant sleep/wake cycle as directed by our exposure to certain light wavelengths during the day.
How does light affect us?
There are two key hormones that are affected by light – the sleep hormone melatonin and the stress hormone cortisol. When waking up in the morning, it’s important that our bodies produce enough cortisol to promote alertness. Into the evening and towards sleep, people need to stop the production of cortisol and begin producing melatonin.
To do this, the body needs access to bright light with blue wavelengths in the first few hours of waking up. Brightness and intensity may be decreased throughout the day and by night, blue light must be eliminated and amber tones, increased. By the time we head towards sleep, we should eliminate light altogether.
Human’s have evolved to use the sun’s light to dictate their sleep/wake cycle, so correct lighting design for daily living and health is about mimicking sunlight. This means that careful attention must be paid to colour temperature and light intensity.
In fact, our reliance on light is so intense that during the darker months of winter, many people can experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. As the mornings are much darker during the colder months, we do not experience as much intense blue-rich light in the mornings, affecting our cortisone levels. This can make us feel less alert and less vibrant, which can sometimes evolve into a depressive state.
There is some concern that the excessive use of smartphones and tablets in the late evenings can affect sleep quality because they emit substaintial amounts of blue/green light at the wavelengths that inhibit the release of melatonin, preventing us from becoming drowsy. Poor quality sleep has been linked with increased risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Blue light can have a major effect on your sleep.
Natural light is full spectrum, meaning that it contains all colours of the rainbow, as well as colours (wavelengths) that we cannot see, such as infrared and ultraviolet. Without all of these colours, our world around us would look a lot more dull, as we wouldnt be able to see skintones or textures, for example, in their full glory.
Natural light is also dynamic, meaning that the intensity and colours of light change with the time of the day, time of the year, weather and location.
Our mood, energy, metabolism, sleep and recovery all depends upon the daily cycles of natural light, since these changes synchronise our circadian rhythm and hormone cycles. When the sun is overhead, daylight is bright and rich in blue (which stimulates us), while at sunset, daylight softens and is dominated by red (which relaxes us). These changes are due to atmospheric filtering of sunlight, which changes with the angle of the sun. Humans, plants and animals depend on these daily and seasonal cycles of natural light for their health and wellness.
The benefits of natural light are extensive:
Day-light increases our productivity and comfort.
Access to natural light improves one’s circadian rhythms.
Working in daylight boosts mood and motivation leading to the work is done faster, creating more pleasure and essentially better results.
It creates a calmer indoor environment, reducing one’s stress.
Utilising natural light reduces reliance on electricity and therefore reducing electricity bills.
Studying in natural daylight reduces stress and has been shown to improve student performance.
Artificial light is used as the substitute when there is an insufficient amount of natural light, with a similar concept as natural light. Artificial light is composed of visible and invisible radiations like ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR).
Artificial light can come in a variety of different colours and intensities, depending on the environments mood.
The UV and IR radiations which artificial light sources hold aren’t harmful to the health of humans, as long as they aren’t situated at a close range or extremely intense. Think of it like this – the annual dose of UV from artificial light is equal to a one-week holiday in an overly sunny destination like the Sunshine Coast.
Although artificial light isn’t harmful most of the time, it has some aspects which can essentially create some health risks.
The blue light aspect of artificial light can have a deeming effect on one’s internal body clock, along with the hormonal system which can lead to overall health problems relating to sleep deprivation and stress. The body’s internal body clock runs on dark and light, and the different chemicals in the brain to let us know ‘when its time to get up and when its time to go to sleep’. These chemicals are then affected by the artificial light which is being used. The blue light in smart phones is the perfect example; when used in a dark room before sleeping, the production of melatonin is reduced, making us less sleepy and more likely to stay awake. If this is a reoccurring situation – sleep deprivation can quickly become a major health problem.
UV light is also a harmful ingredient in both sunlight and artificial light with excessive exposure. UV is what creates the tan on the outermost layer of the skin, but skin cancer can become a quick health problem if too many skin cells become harmed in the process. With tanning beds are a popular way to create this tan, the large amount of UV light which is used can have a major effect on one’s skin and even create eye damage.
Sun baking in tanning beds can cause skin cancer.
For more information on lighting, take a look at our other blogs which talk about lighting including; ‘Glare – Annoying or Harmful?’, ‘Colour Temperature – Warm White vs Cool White’, and ‘The Unfamiliar Role That Light is Playing in Our Lives’.
If you’re still unsure about how lighting can affect your life, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422 to discuss the different lighting options which we have to offer.
We’ve heard it all before: ‘change your globes to LED globes!’ But why? Are LED globes really as good as they say? Is there really any point spending time and money switching your existing globes to LED ones? Why are LED globes so good?
LED stands for Light Emitting Diode and is an increasingly popular alternative to your standard halogen, incandescent, or CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) globes. If you haven’t already substituted your current globes for LED ones in your home or business, then your lighting would already contain one of the other three options mentioned.
What Are Your Lighting Options?
Firstly, let’s look closely at the other traditional options. Not too long ago, you had the choice of incandescent globes, halogen globes, CFLs and LEDs however, it has been predicted that halogen lights will disappear from Australia within the next two years as the country shifts towards more efficient and environmentally options. Australia began the phasing out of poor-performing incandescents in 2007, requiring homeowners and businesses to instead install energy efficient lighting to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Then in 2010, the Australian Government then enacted a ‘Minimum Energy Performance Standard’ law ensuring only the highest performing products are to be available. However, these standards relating to incandescents, halogens and CFLs still do not meet the same energy efficiency as LEDs.
Your CFL bulbs are reasonably cheap to buy but can cost you more to run over time. They can also wear out faster if put in a light fitting that is switched on and off constantly, such as your bathroom or kitchen. They can’t be used outside very often as they don’t work well in extreme heat or cold and can take a little longer to reach maximum brightness. They do, however, have a slightly longer lifespan than incandescents and halogens, and are slightly more energy efficient.
They work via a chemical reaction known as fluorescence. The tube contains mercury that becomes ‘excited’ as electricity is passed through the system. When the mercury begins to settle, it gives off light.
Incandescent globes were simple and cheap to manufacture and therefore purchase, but besides that and their bright light, the pros stopped there! Their lifespan is extremely short and they lose around 90% of their energy to heat. However, despite this, they were probably the most common light bulb that you had in your home currently until the government placed a heavy regulation on the sale of incandescents operating at a certain energy efficiency.
Incandescent globes have the classic ‘light globe’ shape. They contain a mental filament made of tungsten inside, that acts as a bridge for electricity to flow over. As the electricity surges, the filament heats up and it begins to glow giving off light. This is also the reason why the globe gives off so much of its energy as heat, and why it is often hot to touch straight after it has been turned off.
Halogen globes are a type of incandescent light, however, are stronger, designed to withstand higher pressures than incandescents and are around 30% more efficient. But while they are labelled as ‘low voltage’, they still use approximately 35W to 50W per globe, so they are still not an efficient choice to have within the home. They can also become quite hot and can, in some circumstances, becomes quite hazardous.
LEDs are often the more expensive option to purchase per globe compared to their more traditional counterparts, however, they are longer lasting and much cheaper to run! Using around 75% less energy than CFL globes and lasting two to three times as long, when we look at LED globes in comparison to the other options, it is clear to see just they’re the obvious choice!
What Are The Benefits Of LEDs?
The first and most beneficial reason is that they are extremely energy efficient and will save you money on your electricity bills. They use less power (watts) per unit of light (lumens) and can, therefore, provide up to around 100 to 200 lumens per watt. In contrast, CFL globes use around ten times the amount of Watts as LED globes. Incandescent globes also lose a lot of their energy to heat rather than light (90-95% to be exact), so they are extremely inefficient to run. For reference, a 60W (watt) incandescent bulb will only put out as much light as an 8W LED bulb! It doesn’t really make sense to put these globes in your space, when 95% of what you are paying for, you are not able to utilise. So while they might seem the perfect option upfront due to their low cost, they are considered a much more inefficient option than LEDs. In a typical Australian household, lighting makes up for about 7-10% of your electricity bill (sa.gov.au). So when you think about how much you rely on lighting in your home to live comfortably, ensuring that you have the most energy efficient lighting is a small change that you can make to save big on your bills.
Another positive is that they have a much longer lifespan than other traditional globes. To put it into perspective, an average lifespan of an LED globe is between 15,000 to 50,000 hours, while halogen globes last a mere 1,000 to 5,000 hours. So the need to consistently purchase and change your globes lessens when you purchase LED globes. That means less money spent on always buying new globes!
Environmentally Friendly and Recyclable
LED lights are non-toxic, better for the environment and your family and currently the greenest choice on the market today! CFL globes, along with fluorescent tubes, contain a small amount of mercury, a requirement of 5 milligrams according to Australian Standard (environment.gov.au). While this amount of the toxic mercury does means that handling CFL bulbs requires more care and precautions, the short-term nature of the potential exposure when broken does not create a potentially large risk. Gloves should be worn to clean up a broken or no longer working CFL bulb and the remnants should be placed in a plastic bag and given to a nearby waste or disposal centre to avoid the mercury from entering the environment. To find a centre near you, head to www.recyclingnearyou.com.au. Incandescents and halogen globes cannot be recycled due to the fact that they contain a Tungsten filament that cannot be reused, but they may be able to be taken to the same recycling centres as CFLs. The best way to dispose of these globes is to simply wrap them in a few layers of paper and throw them in the garbage, not the most environmentally friendly option, or call your local disposal centre to see if they will take them. LED globes, however, do not contain any hazardous materials, are not made of glass and are completely recyclable. So if they break or stop working, simply wrap them in paper and place in your recycling bin! Safe on your family and the environment!
More Flexible Lighting Options
LEDs are considered to be ‘directional’ light sources, meaning that they can be designed to emit light in a specific direction. Those with LEDs installed in their homes can look forward to focused and concentrated light because of this, and a more energy efficient result. Incandescent and CFL globes emit light in all directions, meaning that they are often radiating heat and light in directions where it is not needed, wasting energy and your money. Having the ability to focus your lighting in your desired direction, means that your lights do not have to work as hard to illuminate the space, and therefore your energy bills stay lower.
LEDs can withstand frequent switching on and off making them perfect for outdoor flashing light displays, sensor lighting, or in areas such as the kitchen, or bedroom where lighting is commonly turned on and off. As well as this, LEDs are able to to be successfully dimmed. Most traditional lights can only be dimmed to 30% of their light output before they stop working, but LEDs are able to operate at a mere 10% of their light output (when used with LED suitable componentry).
Durability and Safety
As previously mentioned, LEDs are much more durable and able to withstand harsh weather conditions due to their ability to operate under extreme temperatures and low voltages. This enables you to place them anywhere around your home, indoors or outdoors, as the cold, wind, rain and extreme heat will not affect them. LEDs also do not contain any filaments or glass enclosures but are instead mounted on a circuit board with soldered leads. This makes them virtually unbreakable and able to withstand shocks, vibrations and external impacts. Safety is no concern with LEDs as they do not give off heat and contain no harmful chemicals.
LED Lighting can be used outside due to its durability.
While different globes work for different situations, it’s obvious to see why LED globes are the clear choice to have within your home or business. With halogens and incandescents slowly being phased out, the only competition that still stands are the traditional CFL globes. Despite CFLs still being a good choice, the benefits of LEDs in comparison far surpass those of CFLs. If you are looking to have new lighting installed in your home, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422 to see what we can do!
We spend many hours in the home or office, surrounded by unnatural lighting that causes issues many people are unaware of. Glare is one of these issues that seems to be considered more of an annoyance than a health issue. But glare can cause many serious issues if not dealt with correctly. In this blog, we discuss just what glare is, how it can affect your health more than you think, and how to eliminate it.
What Is Glare?
Glare is defined by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) as ‘visual conditions in which there is excessive contrast or inappropriate distribution of light sources that disturbs the observer of limits the ability to distinguish details and objects’. The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) describes it more simply as too much light and ‘an excessive contrast in which the range of luminance in the field of view is too great’. Whatever the definition is, while you may think that a small amount of glare is simply just annoying, it may be doing more damage to your health than you think.
Why Is Glare Bad?
Glare can cause many health issues, ranging from being a minor annoyance that causes some discomfort and squinting, to serious eye strain, impaired vision, decreased safety, visual and bodily discomfort, injury to your eyes and a decrease in your overall health. It is also one of the leading causes of eye strain, less-than-optimal vision, and serious eye damage.
Think about how many times you have sat there and seen a flicker of light reflecting off of the table in a room. You squint your eyes to reduce its effect, or your turn your body away so that you cannot see it. While this may seem annoying, the squinting and straining of your eyes can cause serious headaches and vision impairment, and the position of your body may cause muscle strain and discomfort.
This minor annoyance has now presented itself with serious outcomes if left untreated.
Why Does Glare Occur?
Glare occurs where a ‘source of unshielded light is brighter than the average field’ or when there is a stark contrast between a bright light and the average light of an area. To explain this further, a street lamp may not cause glare at dusk, but that same lamp may cause glare in pitch black darkness. This is because the contrast between the light from the lamp and the surrounding area is greater at night than it is at dusk.
The most common reasons why glare occurs around the home or office are computer screens, sunlight, and incorrectly shielded light and poor lighting design. The proper precautions must, therefore, be taken in order to eliminate glare and provide a healthy and productive environment. Good lighting design must be considered to diffuse the light in the room evenly to reduce the luminance or contrast. The luminance must be balanced and uniform within a room to reduce or eliminate glare and make your working or living space entirely comfortable.
How Can Glare Be Eliminated?
Thankfully, there are many ways to control glare so that your days can continue with little annoyance and ensuring that the light is uniform throughout the room is the best way of making this happen. To do this:
Install blinds that allow light to filter through softly, but remove the harshness of direct sunlight.
Install dimmers that allow you to adjust your lighting accordingly. This makes it easier to control your lighting as the daylight changes throughout the day.
Make sure that your lighting is indirectly situated. It may help to have a professional from GEL assist you with this. Having light directed upwards so that it can bounce off the ceilings and walls rather than direct light that is situated downwards is important in dispersing light evenly.
Try to position your computer screen away from a window and so there is no light reflecting off of the screen. Computers emit a lot of glare so it can help to have a soft light source from behind. Sit a lamp with an LED light, behind your screen to soften the contrast and reduce the glare.
Move shiny surfaces, such as glossy tables, away from direct sunlight that can cause harsh reflections. Choosing surfaces with a matte finish will also assist in reducing the glare even further.
Keep your wall colours soft so that when the light hits them, there is very little contrast and reflection.
If you are designing your lighting for your home or office, or if you are experiencing lighting issues, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422 or click here.
Have you ever changed a blown lightbulb and noticed that its replacement does not match the colour of light that it gives off? What once was a nice warm glow has now become a harsh white light and all of the sudden the room no longer has the same ambience and feeling. Or when your white lit, modern kitchen now has a yellow tone that doesn’t accurately highlight the area! It’s because there is a whole colour spectrum of lighting based on colour temperature.
It’s understanding this temperature that makes it easier to choose a light that will give off the look and feel that you want in your room. But why is it that some bulbs glow a bright white, while others emit a warm orange?
Lighting isn’t just about helping you see in the dark, or illuminating a space. The truth is that lighting has a much greater impact on ourselves as individuals and our everyday wellbeing than we think. There has been a large amount of time dedicated to studying and researching just how much of an impact lighting plays in our lives from our health and wellbeing to our productivity levels in both the home and office. For exactly how to light up your life – read on.