Light isn’t something we think a lot about, but it’s one of the most important resources in your home. Light lets us work at whatever hours we want without consequence and makes various work tasks much easier to perform, so it’s something worth understanding if you have efficiency in mind. Understanding lighting well means understanding the differences between the two primary categories of lighting: focused lighting and ambient lighting.
Ambient lighting is what most of us are used to. Ambient lighting is general; the lighting provided by most built-in fixtures is ambient. Ambient lighting just lets you see where you’re going. It’s the kind of light you turn on with the sun goes down. As a general rule, people prefer warm ambient lighting. This tends to feel cozier. Fast food restaurants, department stores and warehouses tend to use cold ambient lighting, and these places tend to keep people moving. This is intentional! Ambient lighting has a pervasive effect on the mood of those under it. This makes it a very useful tool on a wide scale such as that found in a large business or store.
Focused lighting is the sort of light you use for a task. Desk lamps are an example of focused lighting fixtures, as are reading lamps and many floor lamps. Focused lighting is all about putting the light where you need it. It tends to be varied more than ambient lighting. Sometimes, warm light is appropriate. Warm light is generally more pleasant to read than harsh white light. Those same harsh white lights are better for minute tasks that require extensive point-focus, however. This makes focusing for longer periods less restful, but it can also make some tasks easier to perform precisely.
You can use one type of light to counteract another somewhat. Warm ambient lighting in a place of cold focused light can help you perform a task for longer stretches with less strain, and having warm focused light has the same effect in an area with cold ambient lighting.
Understanding the difference is important if you want to make any changes to the lighting in your home. You can find affordable compact fluorescent lamps from GenesisLamp.com, for instance, as well as warmer lights, but it’s important to determine if this is what you need before you invest. Overhauling the lighting in your home can make you more productive and improve your wakefulness when you need it, but that requires using lighting effectively as a tool. As with any tool, you need to know what you’re doing!