AUTOMATED LIGHTING IN WINTER
The effects of lighting on our mental and physical state is something that is often not considered. While many people think of lighting as performing a very simple function - to light a dark space- there is so much more to it than that.
Lighting can be used to make a space more functional, to visually enhance a space or object, and can also have a profound effect on our moods and habits. Lighting is of course essential no matter what time of year it is, however as we experience the nights getting longer in winter, the use of lighting in these months is especially important to improve one's quality of life.
One example for using lighting to improve quality of life in the winter season is to have automated lighting to regulate your Circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is the body’s natural 24 hour cycle which includes changes to the body and mind and is heavily affected by the day/night and light/dark cycle. This is why it’s so much harder to wake up early in winter when it is still dark out and why it is harder to go to sleep early in summer when it is still daylight.
Lighting can be automated to help maintain a healthy Circadian rhythm by, for example, linking bedroom lighting to an alarm clock that will slowly begin to dim up the lights 20 minutes before your alarm rings. The body will interpret this slow increase in light levels as the sun rising and will feel more prepared for daytime when the alarm does ring and it’s time to get up.
In a similar way lighting automation can reduce the effects of SAD (Seasonal affective disorder). The disruption of the Circadian rhythm can be a big contributing factor to SAD, and maintaining normal routines and day/night (light/dark) hours can largely reduce these effects.
Lighting automation can also be used to enhance certain moods. The effects of different colours on human psychology is a fascinating field of study. Studies have shown that the colour red can increase appetite, green can increase feelings of harmony and peace, blue light has been shown to increase productivity, and purple is said to stimulate the creative mind. These effects can be creatively used to set various scenes for different rooms and support various activities. When considering different lighting scenes you might decide to introduce some red light into your dining scene, and perhaps more blue light in your home office for a ‘work scene’.
Automated lighting can also be used as an added security measure. You could, for example, have a select few lights automated to turn on between the hours of 4pm-11pm every evening if the security system is enabled at this time. This will make it appear to anyone watching that the house is occupied even if the homeowner is out late or away on holiday etc. If the homeowner is at home and the security system has not been enabled, this function will not take place and the house can be controlled as the occupant normally would.
During the darkest winter months it is commonly already dark before we arrive home from work. It can be a cold and unwelcoming scene to arrive home to a pitch black house. A nice bit of automation that can be done here is to have the front porch light and perhaps the entry hall and living room lights come on automatically to welcome the occupant home. This can either be done on a timer, assuming the occupant arrives home at roughly the same time every evening, alternatively a well placed motion sensor can detect the approach of the homeowner and automatically trigger your lighting scene in your main living space so your home welcomes you back after a long day.
Lighting can affect our daily lives for better or worse in so many different ways. Putting some time and consideration into planning your home's lighting and a few great lighting automations can hugely increase the enjoyment you experience when doing simple everyday tasks like coming home from work, or eating dinner. So when planning your next home improvement, remember to pay particular attention to your lighting!