Daylighting is providing an internal space with natural light from the sun via openings in a building such as doors, windows and skylights. Good daylight is important for health and wellbeing of the occupants as it has a positive impact on mood and daily and seasonal body rhythms. Lack of it could cause depression, poor sleep, increased appetite and weight gain especially in winter. The correct use of daylight is also important to reduce the use of artificial light and consequently save energy and reduce bills.
If you are planning on starting your self build project or choosing a new home there are some important things to consider in order to guarantee it will have good availability of daylight:
- Home layout – the sun rises on the east, travels across the southern sky and sets on the west (for the northern hemisphere). As you will normally require more light in living rooms rather than bedrooms make sure the former are placed on the south side of the house.
- Taller windows – these will allow daylight to reach deeper inside the spaces.
- Wider windows – these will distribute more light across the length of the space. If windows are too small and placed near one corner of the room there will be lack of daylight on the rest of the space.
- Shallow plan – reducing the depth of spaces wherever possible will increase the chance that daylight reaches the back of the room.
- Lightwells and courtyards – these will help bring daylight to the middle of a deep floor plan.
Although some of the items mentioned above may be difficult to implement in an existing house, there are simple changes you can make to improve the availability of daylight at home:
- Paint your walls in light colours so the light is reflected inside the space. This is especially good for deep rooms or rooms where there is not much daylight available.
- Install skylights or sun tunnels where possible. This is a good option for rooms in the middle of the floor plan that cannot have windows.
- Check if there are any obstructions to sunlight just outside your windows and move them if you can.
- Use net curtains to allow daylight in while preserving privacy instead of closing thicker curtains completely.
- Another option to preserve privacy while also allowing some light in is using privacy screens that will cover only the lower part of the window and will let light pass through the upper part.
- If you are refurbishing your home and replacing your windows make sure to check that your new windows have a high visible light transmittance (over 60-70%). You can find this information on the window specification.
It is important to allow the correct amount of sunlight in the rooms. In addition to bringing in light, it will also bring solar heat, which can contribute to thermal comfort and reduce heating bills in winter. However, excessive amount of glazing can cause an increased amount of heat loss and increased bills. If excessive solar heat enters the rooms in summer it can cause overheating and discomfort. So if you have big windows that receive a lot of sunlight in summer make sure you have adequate solar shading to overcome this!
Make the most out of the sunlight and Green it Yourself…Now!
Have more ideas for improving daylight at home? Please leave a comment below!