Homeowners today are showing consistent interest in large windows and doors, as well as flexible inside/outside living spaces. The desire for more outside visibility is conducive to daylighting, a technique by which the amount of natural light in a space is maximized.
Daylighting has two major benefits. First, increasing natural light can reduce the need for electric lighting and heat, lowering overall electricity consumption. In turn, this gives homeowners lower energy bills.
But daylighting has another significant benefit for homeowners, one that is not as easily measured by hard numbers. Increasing the amount of natural light in a space has been linked to better health and wellness among occupants, be it a house or a commercial building.
Daylighting is maximized when it is incorporated into design and construction stages. When somebody knows they want to maximize the amount of light in a new space, they can specify for large windows and doors, as well as multiple skylights to filter light in from above. Nick Pesl, the Product and Market Specialist at Kolbe Windows & Doors, says some homeowners are pushing for extremely large windows and doors.
“Consumers continually want bigger and larger windows and doors. A lot of that can be traced back to wanting more daylight in their homes,” he says.
Those large windows and doors can stretch almost across an entire wall, according to Pesl.
While some homeowners ask for standard sliding glass doors for their patios, others are requesting doors stretching up to 60 feet across a wall and up to 12 feet tall. With all that glass surface area letting in natural light, the benefits of daylighting are boosted for residents and occupants.
That can especially come in handy in areas of the country with long winters, Pesl says. In environments with lengthy winters, it is especially crucial to take advantage of daylight.
“If you have these large door systems that can help let in more daylight, obviously that’s going to reduce your heating costs,” Pesl says.
But on the flip side, proponents of daylighting have also urged people to remember that consistent exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can be harmful to health and wellness as well as rugs and furniture. Joe Klink and Ashley Ridenour of ProVia said using windows with a Low-e coating can help block the UV rays while still allowing maximum sunlight into a space.
Meanwhile, daylighting has not been immune to the technological advancements that have transformed other aspects of home living. Windows can be connected to home sensors and controls, allowing homeowners to raise or lower blinds without having to actually stand by the window. This is especially useful when windows are located high off the ground, or for skylights. Likewise, homeowners can use remote controls to open their windows, allowing fresh air to circulate through their homes. Like natural light, fresh air circulation is linked to healthy living.
Daylighting, while well-suited for new designs, can be difficult in existing homes and buildings, where window, door and skylight openings are already measured and cannot be changed easily. Klink and Ridenour offered some advice for remodelers tasked with maximizing daylight in an existing space.
- Consider removing storm windows. Many older homes used storm windows, but new technology and efficiency have rendered them obsolete. Removing a storm window can remove obstructions to the window and maximize the glass area facing out.
- Consider new windowframes. Old wood sash frames were wider so as to be structurally sound, but subsequent wood frame advances mean windows can be outfitted with sleeker frames while remaining structurally sound. That in turn leads to a larger viewing area for the window.
- Consider new window types. Old double-hung windows with grids maximized obstructions in the viewing area, but installing new windows without grids maximizes daylighting even without widening the actual opening for the window.
- Consider landscaping and other external factors. Maximizing the amount of daylight in a space may be as simple as pruning trees and shrubs outside or removing an old awning.
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