Bill OttoLived next to NASA Huntsville;became manned spaceflight SME
Thanks for the question.
Unlike in India and possibly some other countries, the governments in Europe and the US were slow to act on efficient lights and did not push fluorescent cool white lighting on us in our homes to save electricity. They did not offer free fluorescent tubes to replace our incandescent lights.
About 20 years ago, when I was a planning commissioner in the City of Moorpark, we studied this issue. At the time, mercury vapor lamps, sodium vapor lamps, and fluorescent tubes were used to save electricity. However, they were old technologies and had drawbacks: the color rendering was very undesirable, and the initial cost was relatively high.
At that time, compact fluorescent and LED lighting were emerging technologies. They tended to use the same phosphors as the older fluorescent tubes. To gain residential acceptance, they would have to make the color temperature a lot closer to tungsten. Without the government to force people to accept cool white lighting, people just resisted. It looked too industrial. So up until about 8 to 10 years ago, most homes were still lit with tungsten light bulbs.
As CFL and LEDs hit the market, Americans by and large have chosen warm lights, which means 2700–3000K color temperature lights for their living rooms and bedrooms which they generally occupy at night. There may be regional differences, but on the average warmer lights is the first choice.
Bathrooms, kitchens, offices, utility rooms and pantries are often lighted with “bright white” or “daylight” which means about 4000–5000 K color temperature.
Why do they do this? First of all, the warm white lights are most like the tungsten bulbs that they replaced. Secondly, the warm white lights are most compatible with the Circadian rhythm. Americans probably wonder if all subcontinental Indians are night people because with those “daylight” bright lamps, they must have trouble sleeping. But that is because Americans are not accustomed to such lighting at night.
Americans associate warm white with “home,” “inviting,” “cozy,” and “comfortable.” They associate bright white with “industrial,” “impersonal,” “commercial,” and “unfriendly.”
Based on the comments from India, many Indians are so accustomed to cool white phosphors that they can’t get used to the warmer white of western lighting. They think western domestic lighting is too dim to see well. They complain of falling asleep, inability to study, eyestrain, and just associate the warmer lighting with ancient and undesirable (low income) technology. That said, a few Indians do not like the cool white lights.
So there we have a culture clash. Each culture thinks it has valid reasons for its choice of lighting.