Daylighting Your Home
The winter solstice occurring on December 22 marks the beginning of winter and the longest night of the year. The amount of light that reaches us from the sun decreases this time of year, which can darken our home interiors more than usual. Read below about how you can bring more natural light into your home this season and year ’round.
Lack of light exposure has been shown to make people feel sluggish and even depressed. Dim interiors can pose safety hazards, especially for those with diminished eyesight. Rather than turning on more electric lights during the day, which drives up your electric bill, you can introduce more natural light into your home. This process is called daylighting. Exposure to sunlight in your home has many benefits, such as preventing vitamin D deficiencies, making you feel more connected to nature, and increasing your sense of well-being.
Start by determining how your home is oriented on its site. Your home will let in maximum winter sun and minimum summer sun when a majority of the windows are located on the south side. East and west facing windows often let in too much sun in the summer and not as much in the winter as south facing windows. Windows on the north side can lose heat in cooler months, so should be de-emphasized. If you are planning an addition, or if you want to reconfigure the existing interior spaces of your home, keep in mind that the direction a window is facing is crucial.
In order to block heat gain and glare from entering through south-facing windows in the summer, include a deep overhang on the exterior. Other options are retractable awnings and adjustable interior window blinds. Either way, it is important to choose energy-efficient windows with the proper glazing and low-E coating for the climate zone. Remember that daylighting requires careful evaluation of where each window is placed on the walls and ceilings of your home.
It makes use of a wide variety of openings, including clerestories, skylights, tubular skylights, translucent doors and windows installed in interior walls. When the placement of openings is calculated to bring natural light even into the deepest recesses of your home, it is possible to eliminate most of your electrical lighting needs during the day.
Positioning a window to one side of the room or high up on the wall allows the daylight to reflect off an adjacent wall or ceiling, increasing the amount of light entering the space. If wall space for windows is limited or unavailable, install a small skylight with a flared light well. A tubular skylight fits between roof framing members, offering a daylighting solution for hard to reach areas, such as closets. Interior windows or glass doors offer a way for one room to borrow light from another.