Wednesday, February 27, 2013

“Daylighting” Saves Energy, Improves Health

Daylight Saving Time starts on March 10th this year, so this is the perfect time to suggest some  "daylighting”  opportunities for your home. Does the term daylighting conjure scary images of something from the “Twilight” series? Architects are now rediscovering “daylighting” particularly as a means to provide a higher quality of light that can positively affect health and productivity while also reducing energy usage. Architects and engineers are now using software programs to obtain optimal daylighting benefits for their construction plans.

Whether you’re designing a new house or updating your home, here are some ideas:

  • Windows: Select windows with a vertical orientation that will selectively allow more light and also diffuse sunlight at different times of the day and year. Also, south-facing windows permit the most winter sunlight but little direct sun during the summer. North-facing windows admit relatively even, natural light, producing little glare and summer heat. East and west-facing windows provide good daylight penetration in the morning and evening, respectively, but may cause glare and heat during the summer yet contribute little to solar heating during the winter. And lastly, keep your windows clean. 

  • Skylights: install a skylight for enhanced daylight or top lighting. Consider an operable venting skylight that allows air flow and functions like a window in the roof. 

Tubular Daylighting Device image from Wikipedia
  • Tubular Daylighting Devices: Install a TDD that employs a “light collector” on the roof and admits light through a tube into the interior of the house. 
  • Solarium, sunroom or greenhouse: Could be added to your home with a large area of glass added between the sun room and your interior living quarters. Low-cost high-volume-produced patio door safety glass is an inexpensive way to accomplish this goal.
  • Some low-cost DIY options: Walls near the windows should be painted a light color to project more reflective light into the room.  Also, consider strategically adding more mirrors into your interior layout and reap the benefits of reflective light. And lastly, rearrange your furniture at different times of year to make the most of natural light. Simple choices such as moving your desk or favorite reading chair closer to the window as the days grow longer can perhaps save a small bit of energy and reward you with a natural sense of well-being.
  • Click here to see Energy 101 Video: Daylighting video courtesy of the U.S. Energy Department

If you are interested in learning more about energy saving  strategies for your home, contact your local Pro Energy Consultants.