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Home Sweeter Home

One thing the last couple of months has taught us is that in the blink of an eye our world can look very different.  Our work and leisure now have most of us staying closer to home and at home for longer periods of time.  We are educating, working, being entertained, exercising, relaxing, and resting within the same four walls like never before.  As a result, many are using the money they would have spent on travel to make home improvements that allow their time spent at home to be efficient and enjoyable.  In reinventing and redefining our homes, there are some lighting and electrical considerations to keep in mind.  

Space for Work

Remote working and remote learning all at the same kitchen table?  We need some remote space!  Whether the changes you make are big, such as converting a garage, enclosed porch or shed into workspace, or small, such as reconfiguring an extra closet, quality lighting and sufficient power are a must. 
The direct glare of overhead lighting should be avoided in all workspaces.  Diffuse the light with lampshades or an upward-shining floor lamp.  Dedicated task lights, such as a desk lamp, should be at every workstation.  Also, be mindful of the direction light is coming from.  Do not position computers where windows or other strong light sources shine at them – this will create a bothersome glare on the monitor. Ideally, you should face the window, not your computer.
Try to keep the color of the ambient lighting in your workstation eye friendly – between 2000K and 3000K (Warm White).  Too much bright white light, the kind emitted by the sun and devices like computer monitors and phones, can disrupt sleep and be detrimental to your health.
Not only are many of us working at home, we are also working out at home.  In the case of home gym equipment, best practice is to have exercise machines on a dedicated 20-amp circuit – this will avoid ruining your machines.  Recessed lighting is ideal for home gyms as many machines raise to incline your workout, increasing your need for headroom.
With increases in electronic equipment in homes, from computers to treadmills, there should be an increase in surge protection.  Power surges are caused by lightning strikes, downed power lines, and even the on/off cycling of laser printers, air conditioners, and refrigerators.  The best defense against power surges is a good offense – a whole house surge protector wired to your electrical panel to protect against large power surges, and the plug-in variety to protect against any additional voltage leak that may not have been caught by the whole-house protector.  

Space for R&R

With staycations possibly the new norm for a while, adding features like a hot tub or an alfresco dining area might help recover some of the rest and relaxation that will be missed without travel. 
After a long day of work, a nice soak may be just what the doctor ordered.   Most hot tubs will need to be plugged into a 220v connection that is tied directly to your home’s breaker box.  When thinking about placement, remember the further away you are from the electrical panel, the longer the trench, the more wire needed, the greater the expense.  Hot tubs that come with a simple plug you can pop into an exterior outlet, otherwise known as plug-and-play hot tubs, are not always the best option for our climate.  Not only do they take longer to heat up, they are less able to maintain their temperature, especially in colder weather (aka Montana winters). 
With summer on its way, eating alfresco, even if it is just in our own backyard, is right around the corner.  Cozy chairs, bright lanterns, and sparkling strings of lights offer an ambience with dinner that kitchen tables cannot quite create.  Place recessed fixtures overhead in the beams of a patio cover or pergola and have plenty of light to eat by – put them on a dimmer switch and lower the light when relaxing afterwards.  When lighting an outdoor dining area, choose bulbs that are warm white (around 2800K) – the soft light makes people and food look vibrant and natural.

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