Q&A Sunday: LED Bulbs vs. Full-Spectrum Bulbs

In terms of BTB feng shui, what is the opinion of LED bulbs? Do they emit EMFs? I thought full-spectrum bulbs were better.

Rita, on How to Buy New Light Bulbs Without Guessing

Hi Rita, 

Thanks for your question! Feng shui doesn't really take this sort of detail into consideration, and in my work with BTB feng shui, we haven't touched on light bulbs much. In general, I believe this would be more of a Bau Biologie question. 

However, we did do some research in attempt to help, and this is what we found!

First, the term "full-spectrum" seems to actually refer to the type of light a bulb puts off, ranging from infrared to near-ultraviolet, and there are available full-spectrum options in CFL, LED and incandescent. It is worth noting that, like with greenwashing, there are bulbs that specify "full-spectrum" that actually do not include the entire spectrum and aren't much different from an average bulb. 

That said, there does seem to be evidence that LED bulbs give off more EMFs than incandescent, in the form of "dirty electricity." Most research and writing confirms that LED bulbs do emit a certain type of EMF, known as dirty electricity, which is caused by products that transform the type of electricity flowing through wires into other types (from AC to DC) in order to provide lower voltage and use less energy

If this is a concern for you, you can try halogen incandescent bulbs, which are clean, or look for high-quality, high-efficiency LED bulbs that do not use a transformer, as they are safer than traditional LED bulbs with regards to EMFs. 

In any case, I would definitely recommend researching further into available lightbulbs and Bau Biologie for more information! 

by Anjie Cho


Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!


How to Buy New Light Bulbs Without Guessing

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The days of incandescent lighting are coming to a close, and most of us agree it's for the best. But if you've been buying incandescent bulbs for years (and who hasn't?), replacing these bulbs with CFL or LED options can be a frustrating task. Since the terminology used for labeling new bulbs is somewhat different than that of old bulbs, it can be tough to figure out which one is right for you. We can help decode all that. 

Give Up Watts

In the olden days, watts were essentially the most important detail on a bulb. In order to light your space correctly, you matched your old bulb wattage to new bulb wattage. As it turns out, watts refers to the amount of energy a bulb requires, not the amount of light it gives off. CFL and LED bulbs can give off more light without using as many watts as incandescent bulbs, so when you're checking wattage, go for the lowest number possible. 

Look for Lumens

If you want to know how much light your bulb will give off, check the number of lumens. Lumens represent how much light a bulb produces, regardless of how many watts are required to produce it. Since we're so used to checking bulb wattage, we often ignored this information with incandescent bulbs, but with new, eco-friendly bulbs, it can be the most important! On average, a 60W incandescent bulb produces 800 lumens of light. For brighter spaces, opt for more lumens. And vice versa. 

Mind Appearance

If you're used to shopping for "soft white" or "daylight" bulbs, it can be frustrating to not find those terms on CFL and LED labels. This information is still there, in fact, it's even more detailed! Check your bulb packaging for the term light appearance. This measurement includes the temperature of a bulb in Kelvins. You can find more detail on that system here, but in general, the lower the temperature, the warmer, more yellow your bulb will be. Bulbs with higher temperatures, or cool bulbs, give off light more similar to natural daylight. 

In addition to these important details, you can also find this helpful information on your CFL or LED bulb packaging:

  • Estimated yearly cost - Typically based on average United States energy costs and usage
  • Life - How long your bulb will last, usually based on 3 hours of use per day
  • CRI - Color rendering index - A rating of how accurately colors display under this light

 You can even check to be sure that the bulb you're selecting is dimmable! While it may be a bit of a change to move from incandescent lighting to more eco-friendly options, with a little adjustment and practice, buying a light bulb can be just as easy as it's always been, and maybe even more effective! 

by Anjie Cho


Decoding the Temperatures and Colors of Lighting

Have you ever wondered what the numbers and color descriptions on your light bulb packaging mean? Not only is there a legitimate reason for describing lights in terms of color, there is a science to determining what color lights your home or work space need.

The light that we use for our spaces, referred to as white light, actually is not simply white at all. Instead, the color of our light ranges from red to bright white, almost blue, depending on how much electricity it uses. The more electricity, the brighter and more whitish-blue a light will appear.

A British scientist named William Kelvin discovered this characteristic in the late 19th century using carbon and heat, so we currently measure these temperatures in Kelvin, or K, a concept generally called correlated color temperature (CCT).

For the most part, a light source is either on the “warmer” or “cooler” end of the Kelvin scale, though this can be somewhat confusing. When you think of a red color, do you imagine warmth or cold? Warmth, right? For this reason, even though red lights register at a cooler temperature on the Kelvin scale, they are referred to as “warm.” The same goes for “cool” blue lights, which are actually the hottest on the scale.

What does this mean in terms of numbers? A warm bulb, one that gives off red light, typically measures at about 2000K-2800K, at the lower end of the Kelvin scale. For cooler bulbs, like the blue bulbs I mentioned earlier, the temperature averages around 5000K-6000K. The lower the number on the Kelvin scale, the “warmer” the white light color will be.

So what can we do with this knowledge? Studies have been conducted that show the shades and temperatures of lighting in a room actually affect the ability of the people in that room to accomplish certain tasks. For example, reading under a “warm” light is not a good idea, as this lighting is essentially the same as reading by candlelight. Instead, studies show that brighter, cooler lights, sometimes up to 6000K, are best for reading or completing work tasks. On packaging, this light is sometimes referred to as “Day White,” as it puts off a brighter light, more similar to the light we see during the day. At the same time, using a cool light in your family room might not provide the most relaxing atmosphere.

You can see why it is important to use the right lighting for each room in your home, depending on what that room is primarily used for. Each temperature in Kelvin is best for a specific set of activities.

For office work, or any room or area that requires a high level of detail and precision, it is best to use colder lights, or those ranging from about 5000K to 10000K. This lighting is also ideal for rooms like bathrooms, where you may put on makeup or do other everyday tasks that require good lighting.

For more relaxing spaces, like the bedroom, living room or even the dining room, it’s acceptable to use a much warmer bulb, even as low as 2700K. This is ideal lighting for maintaining calm, watching television, meditating and a variety of other casual activities.

Ideally, for most average rooms where you may do a variety of things, aim for lighting somewhere in the middle of these two. It isn’t necessary to have an extraordinarily bright light for all activities, but sometimes dimmer lighting can cause problems, for instance when reading or studying. A medium temperature bulb, around 3500K, provides a balance for a wide range of everyday tasks without creating strain.

Not only does proper lighting save energy in areas where bright light is unnecessary, it can go a long way toward holistic living and wellness, from preventing depression to enhancing eyesight to promoting relaxation or focus. When you shop for lighting, whether for your home, office, outdoor areas or even home offices, be aware of what temperature and color bulbs you are buying to ensure that you properly light each area of your life.

by Anjie Cho


Healthy Living with Patti Green: How Feng Shui Changed the Flow in My New Home!

featured this week on Healthy Living with Patti Green

Healthy Living's Patti Green and I worked together on her new condo in Florida to add a little positive feng shui and make the space a beautiful and nourishing space for Patti and her husband. Check out what we did! Patti wrote an article and we did a radio interview. 

...read and LISTEN: full article

Interview Transcript: 

Welcome to Healthy Living with Patti Green. Get the latest on health, fitness, beauty and fun as Patti and her guest share simple tips, ideas and valuable insight to motivate you to live life to its fullest.

PG: Today I’m delighted to welcome Anjie Cho, who’s a registered architect, Feng Shui interior designer and bestselling author of 108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces, Feng Shui and Green Design for Healing and Organic Homes. Since 1999, she’s been creating beautiful and nourishing environments throughout New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles and beyond. Anjie, welcome to my show.

AC: Hi Patti, thank you so much for having me.

Thank you for coming! I’m so excited that you’re here. I’ve always been so inspired by the ancient art of Feng Shui and I’d love it if you could share with the audience, what is Feng Shui all about?

Feng Shui is an ancient art of placement that was developed in China, although all cultures have some form of Feng Shui where they look at how to position themselves in the most positive way within their environment. Feng Shui just happens to come from China, and it looks at how to locate pieces of furniture in your home to achieve the best flow. That’s on a very, maybe superficial, level but on a deeper level, it’s really about being able to see your environment as a metaphor for your life and being able to realize that your environment represents your life and you can make small changes within your environment that will create a small shift and positive shifts in the direction that you want your life to go.

So essentially Feng Shui can be architecturally, it could be interior design, but people can also Feng Shui to improve and enhance the way money flows in to their income stream and/or they can Feng Shui aspects of their relationship to be improved. Is that true?

Yes, absolutely. There’s many different aspects of life that Feng Shui can affect like money, wealth and relationships and health, also your knowledge, your career, your children, your ancestors… Almost anything in your life, you can look at how to improve it with Feng Shui.

With you being a number one architect on national scale, you’ve actually adopted Feng Shui as a very big part of your practice, and today, just for simplicity’s sakes, we’re going to give our audience 5 simple tips to Feng Shui your home without having to do any renovation. So basically with these tips that we can incorporate, people can add these to make real shifts in the way the space makes them feel.

Yes, because I think a lot of people think, “Oh, I can’t move anything around, I can’t move out wall or have a rental or I don’t have enough money to do renovation,” but there’s so much that you can do without renovating, so I wanted to share with you some of those tips today.

What would be one of the tips that you’d like to share with everybody?

One great tip is to add a wood element to your space. The wood element relates to how flexible you are in life. It relates to growth. So we talked about relationships and money, so you could think of it as growth in your income or growth in your career or growth in your relationship. The wood element, if you think of wood, you could think of plants or trees, the wood element relates to flexibility, to growth, and also it’s very healing and generates human heartedness and kindness. One easy way to add wood element to your home is with green plants. Now, ideally you want living green plants but you could also add some fake plants or silk plants as long as they’re a very good quality, very realistic and they look great. Patti and I were talking about this last time we spoke, and, for instance, if you have a home that you’re not at all the time, like a summer home, you’re not able to keep up with watering these plants all the time, or if you have, say an apartment, that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight or there’s an area in your home that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, you can absolutely use a fake plant. I think a fake plant is better than a dead plant.

No, I’m sure. Now, when you say a wood element, I mean, it might sound simple but can someone just add a piece of wood?

Wood is a little bit different actually, and it depends on the different Feng Shui consultants, and I support all different schools of Feng Shui. What I’ve been taught by my teachers is that like a piece of wood, a brown piece of wood, is more related to the earth element because its color is brown, and it’s also deadwood. But some people would say, yes, it’s wood but to me, I think the most effective way to add the wood element would be to add a living green plant or something green. There’s something that you learn from having a living green plant. You have to take care of it. You have to pay attention to it. I had one in the corner of my house, and my husband and I forgot about it for a couple of weeks, and all the leaves died. So it does cultivate this mindfulness and teach you how to take care of something other than yourself and to be aware of your environment, so it works on many different levels.

Okay. So adding a wood element, which would basically be a living green plant or a very high quality fake silk arrangement, flowers and/or tree, that you would place anywhere in your home, or does it make a difference where?

It really depends on what you want to work on. To keep this interview simple, I would say that you could put one in your entry, one in your bedroom and one in your kitchen.

I love it. Alright, so what’s the next tip?

Another tip would be to brighten your entry, the entry of your home, because your entry represents your head or your face to the world. It also represents how opportunities come to you. A great way to brighten your entry is to, one take a look at your bulb. Make sure it’s not burned out, or it might be a really low wattage. I would encourage people to replace their light bulbs in their entries to higher wattage, so you have the ability to keep your entry very bright so that opportunities can find you. The light bulb also represents fire energy, so it adds more fire, passion and recognition. If you’re in a dark room and someone lit a match, you would be drawn to that and you would see it. That’s kind of that energy that you create in your entry and then attracting opportunities towards you by getting a new bright light bulb and having a bright entry.

I love it. Now is the entry way in a vestibule inside or an entry way that would be a light that people would see on the outside?

Both would be ideal.

Alright, we can do that. And then tell us the third tip.

The third tip would be looking at your chairs in whatever room you happen to have your TV. Most people have their TV in their family room, and usually, you have all your seating in the room facing the TV to watch TV, but it also makes sense to have some seating that doesn’t face the TV, and that inspires conversation and connection. So just take a look in to how all your chairs are arranged. If they’re all facing the TV, it doesn’t inspire connection, family, it doesn’t really inspire you. It’s more about staring at the TV, right? So I would encourage people to look at how their family room is set up, because it’s a family room! You want to spend time together, and maybe just move a couple of chairs around so they’re not all facing the TV.

That’s inexpensive.

Yeah, that one’s pretty easy, and it will really help support your relationships in your home.

It makes a lot of sense. I know that we’ve got one of those sectional couches, but it all faces the television and it doesn’t really inspire much conversation. But we do have another seating area that’s sort of centered around the coffee table, and it does inspire conversation and connection. I’m definitely going to try to add a piece of furniture in the main TV room just to add that element. I think that that’s really important.

I think so too, because how you position yourself in an environment really does matter. When you’re sitting on a bus side by side, you’re not facing each other, you actually feel very comfortable sitting close to someone, right?

Yes.

If someone was facing you, you could be further away, but that inspires conversation and eye contact, so it creates this different dynamics between the person. So you want to create situations in your home where you inspire relationship and cultivate them, rather than cultivate silence and disconnect.

What’s the fourth tip?

The fourth tip would be to look under your bed at what storage you have. Your bed is really important. It represents you, and it’s great to have space under the bed if possible. That means not to have any storage under the bed, because it may represent unconscious blocks in your life. So if you have to have some storage under your bed, the best things to store would be any soft items such as blankets or pillows, things that are bed related, linens, and avoid anything like old love letters from an ex or anything sharp. You don’t want anything negative, because you’re sleeping over that energy, and it affects you while you’re passively sleeping.

That’s kind of cool. I would never have thought of that but, in thinking now in my mother’s home, where she used to live, she had these storage bins full of these books and all this old stuff. They designed these tubs, these plastic tubs, to specifically go under the bed, they’re pretty shallow! But currently in my home, I have nothing under the bed so I’m feeling safe. What’s the fifth?

The fifth tip I have is to look around your home and see if you have any broken objects. For instance, I had a client who had this broken lamp that she had in her home for a long time, and she always meant to repair it but she never got around to it. When you have these objects in your home that are broken or need a repair, it’s a really good idea to either just get it repaired or to let it go. Give it away or toss it, because it can represent stuck or broken energy. For me, if I saw like this lamp that I meant to fix in my house every day, it’d be a constant source of a little bit of guilt like, “I should do that. When am I going to get time to do that?” It just weighs you down all the time to have that there, and we have enough things to do in our lives. We don’t really have to add more to our lists, like repairing a lamp, so either repair it or let it go.

Okay, that’s an inexpensive fix as well. I know when speaking to you, I told you about our sort of winter home, if you will, and it’s just a condo, nothing exciting, nothing big, and you’ve given me some tips of what I can do to enhance this space and basically Feng Shui it for better energy. In my blog that we give the interview going live, I’ll share with you how things have shifted in our lives with the wood element that I’m going to be adding, the brightened entry way with a new lighting, adding the chairs to the family room. I don’t have anything under my bed, so I can’t do that and I’m going to check around for any broken objects, yet, I don’t think I have any, but we bought this from somebody else, there could be something I’m not even catching. So I’m going to do a full walkabout and then report back.

Ooh, I can’t wait to see the blog post.

I know, I can’t either. Now Anjie, you do have another element to your practice, and if you just go in to it briefly. “Green” is such a big word now, everyone wants to save the environment and people are trying to recycle and repurpose. Is that would green design is about, or what is it all about with how it relates to architecture and Feng Shui design?

In architecture, green design is a very broad term. It could incorporate looking at sustainable building materials and go so far as to look at how you dispose of building debris and also the lifecycle of things or how the air quality is in the space, and it could go really into depth. I think on the easiest level, I like to work for my clients on the very simple level as to how to incorporate green living practices to their home, because when you teach people small things that they can incorporate in to their lives that include green living, then they begin to see the connection to everything, and this is also how Feng Shui is related too. I think Feng Shui is the original green design, because it really looks at how does your environment affect you, and how do you affect your environment? This is the same thing with green design. I like to teach people about simple things like, how do you cut out toxic cleaning products from your life? Or how do you incorporate recycling in to your everyday life? Then they may start to get more interested and start composting and make bigger changes, and then, hopefully (there are clients that I have that would prefer to use more sustainable materials, such as bamboo plywood, which is rapidly renewable and grows faster) maybe using reclaimed materials instead of new materials. But sadly, a lot of times in construction, it’s actually more cost effective and time effective to use new materials, and sometimes it’s almost impossible to try to renew something, so I do my best, but I think it’s about small stuff.

I love it. I mean, basically, people can make small incremental steps. Just like you said, composting and/or recycling, that’s simple. Changing their toxic cleaning materials to more green. Those are great ideas, but then also breaking it down to, if someone’s building out a space, maybe speaking to their architect or builder about certain sustainable types of materials that they might be able to incorporate that can sort of save our planet, if you will.

Yes.

Okay. Well, Anjie, I know that you’re a very sought after expert in the fields of Feng Shui and green living, and I thank you so much for being in our show today. 

Thank you so much Patti, it was so much fun.

It’s been great and I’ll report back.

by Anjie Cho


Why Switch to CFL Bulbs?

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Why NOT switch to CFL Bulbs?

In preparation for this article, I took a survey amongst my friends. I wasn’t sure how relevant the topic was since I personally made the switch to energy efficient lighting years ago.  So, I took a survey and I asked, “Do you think most households have switched to using CFL bulbs?” 

I found out that the topic of CFL bulbs was very controversial!  Here are some of the responses I’ve received:

- Yes, they believe most people have switched to CFL bulbs.  And this is possibly because “most people don’t realize they have switched to CFLS”.  Interesting because the newer CFL bulbs look a lot like incandescents and also people just really don’t pay attention to what they’re buying.

- Yes, “can you even buy incandescent anymore?”  (Note: yes you can, but they will soon be banned and obsolete)

- Another said, “Maybe half of the households in the US, considering that incandescent bulbs are still a fraction of the cost of CFLS”.  True true.

- One response was “I certainly hope not. They're horrible.” In fact this friend then insisted he wanted to write his own competing speech in the “battle of the bulbs”. 

I wholeheartedly believe in switching to energy efficient lighting because not only do incandescent bulbs waste money, they also deplete our precious natural resources.  So here I am, standing on my little soapbox to convince my readers to participate in one small step to green our planet and individual lives.

So why switch to CFL bulbs?  CFLs are the easiest and least expensive way to upgrade to efficient lighting in your home.

First I’ll explain the basic differences between CFL and standard incandescent bulbs.  Standard incandescent bulbs produce light when an electric current passes through a filament and causes it to glow.  This creates heat and light.  But it’s pretty inefficient because you lose a lot of energy to the heat.

CFL stands for compact fluorescent light.  They are those squiggly bulbs.  In comparison to incandescent bulbs, an electric current is driven through the squiggly tube which contains argon and a small amount of mercury to emit a visible light.   By the way, argon is an inert, non-toxic gas and of course we know mercury is a heavy metal.  The mercury is safe as long as the tube does not break and is recycled of properly.  Home Depot and Ikea both have free CFL recycling programs.

More importantly, a CFL bulb uses about 75% less energy than an incandescent bulb.  For instance a 13 watt CFL bulb gives of the same amount of light as a 60 watt incandescent.  So you save a lot of energy. 

Next, what about upfront cost?  A CFL light is just a couple of dollars more and they’re very easy to find at your local hardware store. 

And what about cost over time?  A good CFL will last approximately 10,000 hours, whereas an incandescent lasts only 1,000 hours.  So you save lot of money (and energy) there too.

Finally, Some people are concerned about the look of the bulb as well as the quality of light.  CFLs have a bad rap because they used to give off a very blue, what I like to describe as alien-UFO light.  The technology has improved so much that you can get warmer color temperatures that are flattering and comforting to have in your home.  Make sure to get the warm or soft white bulbs (2700K or 3000k).  They also have bulbs with globes around them so that they look like incandescent bulbs and you don’t see the squiggly tube.

Just screw in the bulbs into your regular fixture and you’re all done!

In conclusion, the next time one of your incandescent bulbs blows out, you should replace it with an energy efficient CFL bulb.  Contrary to what most people believe, CFL bulbs are inexpensive, will save you more money over the long run, and can offer a pleasing and warm atmosphere in your home. 

And!  I’d love to hear from any readers with strong feelings about using CFL bulbs?  

by Anjie Cho