With daylight saving time in full effect, sunlight can be harder to come by. According to a recent study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) based in the US, humans spend an average of 90 per cent of their days indoors, so savouring every opportunity for natural sunlight is more important than ever, especially during winter months. However, more time spent indoors and longer nighttime hours can mean fewer opportunities to soak up the benefits of natural light. But did you know that you can enjoy all the perks of natural lighting through simply upgrading or adding windows into your home?
The health benefits of natural light
When building new or completing a renovation project, consider adding more or larger windows to increase the amount of natural light allowed into a home and to enjoy the many health benefits that come along with it. Creating opportunities for increased natural light in your home provides the benefits of vitamin D, while decreasing direct exposure to the sun and potential sun-related cancer risks. Additionally, according to experts, sunlight can reduce blood pressure, help us cope with anxiety and stress, and protect against the effects of seasonal affective disorder felt most commonly in the winter. Allowing natural light into homes also helps to regulate circadian rhythms and sleep cycles, providing more energy and better focus. One study published in an online supplement to the journal Sleep even showed that people exposed to more natural light during the day were able to sleep an average of 46 minutes more each night.
Location, location, location!
As you plan, it's important to consider the direction your windows and patio doors face, to take full advantage of the available natural light. For example, south-facing windows will allow for the most winter sunlight, but little direct sun during the summer. Meanwhile, north-facing windows admit relatively even, natural light, producing little glare and almost no unwanted summer heat gain. Finally, east- and west-facing windows admit good daylight in the morning and evening, respectively. However, these directions could create a glare and admit heat during the summer and contribute little solar heat during the winter.
The energy efficiency of modern windows
Exposure to natural light through windows goes hand-in-hand with energy efficiency at home. Even though they may supply sufficient light, older windows - especially those with multiple panes of glass, as opposed to one large pane — are notorious for air leakage and allow heat to escape the home while letting in cold air.
You've seen the light, now it's time to make a change
Has your view on windows and their importance changed? Consider window options from quality manufacturers that have a variety of window style options, customizable sizes and plenty of energy-efficient benefits and certifications.
If you decide to install or upgrade windows, keep in mind the following helpful tips:
* To maximize daylight, comfort and energy efficiency, be sure to identify the climate zone you live in and select a window that meets your zone requirements.
* To determine your home's orientation and sun exposure, try using the compass app on your smartphone.
* Hire a reputable contractor to help you select the right windows for your home and to ensure your windows are installed according to local building codes.