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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2007
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Check with doctor before installing SAD lights in home

Dear Jim: I am planning to get a high-intensity SAD light or sunrise device to help reduce my wintertime blues. Do these things really work, what features should I look for and are they expensive to use? Kimberly J.

Dear Kimberly: SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, blues are supposedly caused by the reduced number of daylight hours during the winter. I am not a physician, but some people claim the proper use of lighting devices can help to reduce problems with SAD. Before trying to treat yourself for SAD, always consult your doctor first to discuss your specific problems.

Some hospitals have SAD light therapy rooms that you can use for a fee. If your local hospital offers this, it is a good way to determine if the light therapy helps you. A SAD light therapy box with a stand costs several hundred dollars to purchase.

Almost all of the SAD light boxes use several long fluorescent tubes for the light source. Fluorescent tubes use only about 25 percent as much electricity as standard incandescent light bulbs and they last many times longer.

Since the light box is used for only a short period each day, the electricity usage and overall cost are not great.

It used to be thought that using full-spectrum bulbs, which simulate the natural white light from the sun, was important. Today, many experts feel the intensity of the light on ones eyes is more important than the natural appearance of the light.

SAD light boxes

Most of the SAD light boxes produce a minimum of 10,000 lux of light intensity. This sounds bright, but consider the light intensity outdoors on a clear sunny day is as high as 90,000 lux. At 10,000 lux, you can easily read the newspaper or magazines without uncomfortable glare.

The typical SAD light box is lightweight, about two feet long and only 4 inches deep.

The intensity of the light is also a function of how far your eyes are from the light box. When you compare SAD light boxes from various manufacturers, ask at what distance they produce 10,000 lux light intensity. If the distance is too small, you will have to have the light uncomfortably close. A distance of about 18 to 24 inches is generally reasonable.

In addition to SAD light therapy boxes, other devices are also used to combat wintertime SAD. You mentioned a sunrise device. These are actually called dawn simulators. Many have an alarm clock built into a lamp. Others models have an outlet into which you plug a lamp.

About 30 minutes before the alarm goes off, the dawn simulator slowly begins to brighten the bulb to simulate the sunís coming up. Even though you are sleeping, the light will penetrate your eyelids similar to real sunlight. Other devices are lighted simulated windows with changeable scenes.

The following companies offer SAD lights: Apollo Light Systems, (800) 545-9667, www.apollo light.com; Bio-Brite, (800) 621-5483 www.biobrite.com; Enviro-Med, (800) 222-3296, www.bio- light.com; Full Spectrum Solutions, (888) 574-7014 www.fullspectrumsolutions.com; and Sunbox, (800) 548-3968, www.sunbox.com.

New boiler

Dear Jim: I have to replace my 30-year-old boiler with a higher-efficiency model. My heating contractor says I need a chimney flue liner even though the chimney is in good condition. Is this true? Jeri S.

Dear Jeri: Whether or not you need a chimney liner depends upon the actual condition of the inside of the chimney and the efficiency rating of your new boiler. Old boilers exhaust so much heat, liners were not needed.

With a more efficient boiler, more heat goes into the water so the flue gases are cooler. With a model in the 80-plus percent efficiency range, the flue gases can cool enough to condense moisture inside the flue. This is why a liner is required.

Send inquiries to James Dulley, The Decatur Daily, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.

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