Get some light in your life.

August 3, 2016

More light coming into the home can lead to improved mood and outlook (as well as lower energy bills). Take the following steps to make better use of daylight in your house:

 

Raise the blinds and pull curtains open. Let in natural light at the start of each day, to help with motivation and mood, and establishing a healthy sleeping pattern. By opening window treatments, these benefits can even be accomplished on a overcast day.

 

Letting in more daylight can do more for our health than we realize. We can see more, think more clearly, move about more safely, save electricity, and make the home a more comfortable place of enjoyment. Letting in natural light can even help fight off SAD and some forms of depression. Light coming in through the windows is classified as either ambient or direct sunlight.

 

Ambient light comes through the windows, hitting walls, floor, and furniture. this reflected light creates a soft, pleasing radiance that will fill open spaces, even on an overcast day when there is no obvious sunlight. Ambient lighting can help eliminate shadows and make it easier to see in nooks and smaller spaces.

 

Direct sunlight is bright and can create plenty of heat. Though it can feel good on a cold day, it isn't as useful for seeing inside the home and can form shadows. 

 

The depth or intensity of light is crucial for completing household tasks and for creating a serene, happy feeling. Psychological experts explain that brighter light improves energy, while darker light has a calming effect.

 

Too much bright light creates glare, making it difficult to see clearly, for any task. During daylight hours, the objective is to encourage well lit spaces, by controlling direct sunlight and 
optimizing ambient light, using artificial lighting only when necessary.

 

Characteristics of Effective Daylighting

Achieving optimal daylighting is a matter of balancing heat with soft, ambient lighting, to make household chores easier and promote relaxation. In the Winter, sunlight coming in through windows can help heat the home. In the Summer, the trick is minimizing direct sunlight, so the home stays cooler.

 

To achieve optimal results, daylighting involves the combination of many factors, such as:

  • Position of the home

  • Best window location and design

  • Controlling light with window coverings

  • Overhead lighting with solar tubes or skylights

  • Interior decor, like paint colors and furniture placement

  • Need for light in each room

  • Reflection of light indoors and outdoors

  • Use of artificial lighting

The approach to daylighting can be a matter of personal choice If you feel a particular space needs more light, it probably does You should consider various options for adding light, to make the space safer or more comfortable. 

If your favorite reading space gets too much light in the afternoon, you should find a way of toning it down and converting it to ambient light.

 

Typically, the more ambient light, the easier it will be to go about daily tasks, without relying on artificial lighting.

Make the Most of Existing Windows

one of the simplest ways to control daylight, is to have the largest exterior of the home facing South, where most of the windows would also be placed. 

 

This is not always an option. But, knowing how light affects indoor spaces at various times of day can help in planning for daylighting that works.

 

Windows facing North get less direct sunlight and have a tendency to lose heat. They should be kept to a minimum, if possible. Of course, this will depend on climate and whether more heating or cooling of the home is desired. 

 

Northern light tends to be softer and helps create more ambient light inside. 

 

If heat loss is a concern, it may be a good idea to spend more money insulating North-facing windows or buying windows with a high energy efficiency rating, like those with argon gas insulation. While the initial cost is slightly higher, they will often make up the cost difference in a few years. Greater comfort and reduced heat loss may well be worth the additional expense.

 

West and east facing windows get plenty of direct sunlight and can be a challenge to filter. Morning light from the East is often more acceptable in any season, as it brightens the interior early in the day. 

Light from the West is more of a challenge to control. It can produce far too much heat and light in the Summer. Steps to reduce sunlight from the West in the warmer months include:

  • Use low E-coating on the inner surface of the outer windows.

  • Install awnings or a covered patio, to divert the sun'''s rays coming from the West.

  • Plant native trees that get plenty of foliage in the Summer and lose their leaves in colder weather.

The goal is to prevent sunlight from heating the inside spaces, by keeping it away from the West-facing windows. Shades and blinds can block or reflect light, but are less effective in reducing heat gain. 

South-facing windows are most effective, as they provide plenty of ambient light and can help warm indoor spaces in the colder months. The sun is positioned higher in the Summer, allowing the roof line to block much of the direct light. In the winter, the sun is lower and will come in below the roof line. It provides more direct light, which helps the interior stay warmer. 

 

Experts agree that planting trees on the south side of the home can help reduce heat gain. But, even the branches can block a good amount of Winter sunlight. 

Using Skylights and Solar Tubes

If the addition of windows is not feasible, installing skylights and solar tubes can help Skylights provide up to a third more light than a typical window of the same size. It is a great alternative for maintaining privacy. Tube lighting can provide as much light as three LED light bulbs. It is best used in areas where concentrated light is needed. 

Mirrors and Window Coverings

Mirrors are good for reflecting light. They work well in dark spaces, like hallways, basements, and entry foyers. Slatted blinds turned upward direct light toward ceilings, creating more ambient light. Sheer window curtains can filter light and turn it into ambient light.

Harvesting

The process of daylight harvesting involves combining natural and artificial lighting, to produce optimal results throughout the day. Sensors are used to detect light and adjust artificial lighting, to keep light indoors at a constant level.

 

Choosing the correct blinds or shades for space is very important. Contact Debra Piazza for a consultation. She can help you find the right window treatments. 

 

650.888.2168

Deb@PiazzaDesigns.com

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