Light it up with efficiency

Light it up with efficiency

January 8th, 2011 by Karen Nazor Hill in Life Entertainment

Staff Photo by Danielle Moore<br/> Mark Benson, owner of Southern Cabinets and Lighting poses for a portrait at the new showroom on Gunbarrel Road in Chattanooga. Mr. Benson decided to move the store to the new location between Target and Earth Fare in August 2009.

Staff Photo by Danielle Moore<br/> Mark Benson, owner of...

Mark Benson wants to light up your life.

As owner of Southern Cabinets & Lighting on Gunbarrel Road, Benson said proper lighting is essential. And "proper" now includes "going green" in many cases, he said.

"We have several applications of LED lighting. This is the way of the future in being cost-efficient and achieving great lighting," he said.

In June 2009, President Barack Obama launched an energy-efficiency effort that would dictate major changes to energy-conservation standards in commercial lamps and lighting equipment, according to

In other words, the way we light up our lives will change.

The plan takes effect in 2012, the website noted.

It focuses on general service fluorescent lamps (GSFL), which are commonly found in residential and commercial buildings, and incandescent reflector lamps (IRL), which are commonly used in recessed and track lighting. These fluorescent and incandescent lamps represent about 38 and 7 percent, respectively, of total lighting energy use.

Fortunately, the new, more-efficient bulbs will be manufactured to fit standard sockets found in existing lamps and fixtures, Benson said.

"You won't have to go out and buy all new lighting fixtures and lamps to accommodate the bulbs," he said.

"The shape of the old 'Edison' bulb won't go away," he said. "The truth is that you will have good lighting while using less wattage."

Benson said the biggest design trend he has seen in the industry is accent lighting.

"Sconces, for example, are much more popular now than they were seven years ago when I got into this business," he said. "They're strictly for accent; you can't read under one. But they are good for lighting hallways and stairs."

More customers are buying accent lighting to accentuate artwork, he said.

Table lamps are still a staple in homes, Benson said.

"We do sell a lot of lamps, especially to our older clients who are wanting more light in their homes. One of the reasons they're wanting more light is because their eyes aren't as strong."

A recent study shows that bright lights can also ease depression in the elderly.

According to, researchers tried three weeks of

bright-light therapy using specially designed light boxes and saw that

it improved symptoms of depression by as much as 54 percent in older adults.

"When the days get longer, the house gets darker," Benson said. "Good lighting makes all the difference."

Another trend in lighting is custom-designed hand-blown glass fixtures.

"We call them pendants," he said. "It's typically one globe that hangs down from the ceiling. We have a company that customizes them for our clients. It's like a piece of art."

Also trendy in the last few years is a black crystal chandelier. The chandelier can either be all black or combined with clear crystals, he said.

The options of displaying light is great, Benson said. Whether it's through sconces, table or floor lamps, chandeliers, pendants, recessed (can lighting) or from a ceiling fan, manufacturers today are actively producing new designs, Benson said.

"You control how much lighting is in your home," he said. "And, sometimes, it's something you need to experiment with."

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