With summer coming to an end and fall fast approaching, we are often asked by clients how to bring more light into a home. The easiest solution would be to add recessed lights or sconces, or even paint the interior walls a lighter color. However, natural light is the most sought after solution because of the many benefits it brings.
Daylighting, the process of maximizing natural light in a space through window placement, is a big trend all over the world. Using natural light in the home and work place is shown to make people happier and more productive. It reduces eyestrain and boosts energy. Daylighting makes rooms seem larger and even reduces electricity bills because light fixtures do not need to be turned on as much. A few ways to increase the natural light in your home is to incorporate windows, sun tunnels and skylights.
Windows- Windows are the number one way to allow natural light into a home. Windows do not have to be clear glass, they can be tinted or use low-transmittance glass to reduce glare. Even on a cloudy day, windows can fill a room with light. This greatly reduces energy costs because electric lights are not needed as much. It is recommended to choose low-e (low emissivity) window options, which reduce heat flow. Low-e windows have an extremely thin, transparent metal coating on them. Many windows are rated with the Energy Star logo meaning they are high-efficiency windows that meet Energy Star guidelines. These windows can get homeowners a tax credit of up to $500. Products such as the Pella 350 series have triple-pane glass for maximum efficiency and come in multiple sizes and design options.
Sun Tunnels- Sun Tunnels, such as Velux, are becoming a popular choice for easily allowing more sunlight into the home. These are metal tubes that go through the ceiling and out the roof. They can be angled to fit different roof pitches. The top part of the sun tunnel is a clear dome that has a low profile and sits close to the roof. The light goes through the tunnel and into the room. Sun Tunnels are energy efficient and do not allow heat in or out. They can also qualify for tax credits due to energy efficiency ratings. These tubes even work when it is cloudy out. The tubing is highly reflective which shines available light down into the room.
Since there are no shades for the sun tunnel, they should only be placed in rooms where you will always want the light to come in. So placement in a bedroom should be avoided. Many of our clients love the idea of a sun tunnel in their bathroom remodel and one well placed sun tunnel often allows them to use the bathroom without turning on a light at all.
Skylights- Skylights have come a long way and current models do not have the leaking problems of the past. They come with leak-proof flashing and can fit any type of roof pitch. Some skylights also have optional shades and blinds that can be controlled with a remote. In order to take maximum advantage of the benefits of skylights, we recommend opting for a double pane window vs. single pane. This helps to reduce heat loss from the home. Skylights can be completely sealed off, like a picture window, or they can be opened to allow for ventilation. They also come in different shapes, but rectangular is the most popular. Skylights can be made from plastic or glass. The plastic can discolor over time, so glass is usually the preferred option. The glass is usually tempered for better impact resistance. For maximum heat gain in the winter, it is recommended that windows are placed on the south facing side of the home; however this also means that shades should be used in the summer to prevent too much heat during those months.
As you can see in the above picture, the skylights fill this studio with natural light and makes the room a cheery and inviting place to work or relax.
So this fall, make a plan to fix those dreary dark areas of your home and let the light in – Summit Design Remodeling can help.Emily Miner, ASID, GAC, CLC Interior Designer, Summit Design Remodeling Summit Design Remodeling is a design/build remodeling company serving all of Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland. To see our remodeling galleries, go to www.summitdesignremodeling.com