Natural illumination is still the best type of lighting system. As humans we instinctively prefer natural light to electric light. There have been many studies done which show that natural lighting has a positive impact on well being and productivity (http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy02osti/30769.pdf). So how about having these lighting benefits at home? Daylighting is the practice of using windows and skylights to bring sunlight into your home thus reducing the need for artificial lighting.
Most homes have the usual vertical windows which bring in sidelight. As a rule of thumb, that light will penetrate into the room a distance of 2 ½ times the height of the window. Taking a cue from commercial buildings, why not consider some alternative strategies to providing natural light such as solar tubes and light shelves
The solar tube or light tube is gaining popularity for use in residential properties. Light enters through a dome mounted on the roof and these can be used on a flat or low pitched roof as well. The light passes through a tube which is lined with a highly reflective material and angled lens which intensify and direct the light. The light enters the room through the lens which is mounted on the ceiling. In today’s market there are lenses to match every décor, from simple to chic contemporary designs that incorporate glass and fabric. There are also options for diffusing the light for soft, subtle natural lighting or warmer lighting similar to an incandescent light bulb. With a daylight dimming accessory, the option of controlling the amount of light that comes into the room is as simple as flipping a switch.
The light shelf is another means of reflecting daylight and distributing the light further and more evenly into the room. The light shelf can be installed on the inside or the outside and is usually mounted horizontally. Light coming from the window is reflected off the shelf which then bounces the light off the ceiling.
The obvious benefit of these measures is less dependency on artificial light. The decreased need for electricity will in turn lower the operating costs of the home. Another consideration is that sunlight is a natural disinfectant which can reduce or lessen the production of molds, mildews and other harmful organisms.
These are just a few of the ways that natural lighting can be incorporated into the home, and of course there are many more options to this eco-friendly and rewarding home improvement.
Julie Maas, Design Consultant with Summit Design Remodeling, is an accredited LEED Green Associate. She has extensive knowledge of green issues such as daylighting, water efficiency, and indoor air quality. To contact Julie with any questions, please call her at 703-537-0930 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. www.summitdesignremodeling.com