Some of the best architectural designs are custom tailored to take advantage of natural sunlight. The designer of the Pantheon, built in 126 A.D., notably created a domed roof with a 27-ft-wide oculus, open to the sky, which allows light deep into the space.
Natural lighting conserves electricity and creates a connection with the outdoors. Natural sunlight can be a rare resource, particularly in urban residences that share walls with neighbors. A home in the suburbs may have access to a lot of light, but will sometimes fail to utilize it well.
Here are some techniques that design professionals use to bring natural sunlight in and control it for best effect:
Tracking the sun’s path across the sky
One of the luxuries of building your own home is that you can decide where you want the light to be during different parts of the day. If you like to wake up to the sun, you can locate the bedrooms on the east side of the house. On the other hand, if you are not a morning person, you can choose to put them on the west side instead. This may be an attribute that is overlooked in purchasing a pre-built home, but can make a huge difference to the experience of living in your new space.
Funneling light into the center of the home
Particularly in row houses that only have access to light from the front and the back, bringing in more light is essential. One common technique is to create a central stairwell that doubles as a light well, lit by a skylight. Another technique is to create a “light chimney”, such as over the shower and tub.
Skylight over a stairwell
Skylights are very aptly named; they are windows that point straight to the sky, and that can be a great natural light source for your home. In many cases, the natural sunlight streaming through a skylight means you don’t have the need for artificial light at certain times of the day.
But as with any surface made of glass, you can lose heat or cool through the skylight, and that can push your utility bill up. Of the two basic skylight options, standard rectangular or “tubular”, a tubular skylight is more energy efficient. Skylight tubes allow you to capture light above your roof and tunnel it to just about any location in your house. Because it creates a smaller hole in the insulated ceiling, less heat is lost during winter or gained during summer. But proper installation is crucial with any type of skylight.
Another way to bring in more light is through the use of French doors, and with dormer windows. The classic dormer window is used to add space as well as light. In a tall space, clerestory windows may be used high up towards the ceiling, providing bring but indirect lighting.
Clerestory windows in a kitchen
In contemporary designs, the issue is often controlling the light since large windows and window walls are a signature element. Heat gain or loss can be an issue, as well as harsh direct light, so managing and balancing light levels is important in the design of a home. For instance, the air conditioned Florida Room of our “Delvento” plan has large sliding glass doors that allow the natural sunlight in while you stay cool, but can also be opened wide for that connection to the outdoors, along with additional seating on the patio.
Florida Room in the “Delvento” plan #6579
The sun also has many health benefits from the vitamin D it provides. This is a great motivator to increase the amount of natural sunlight shining in our homes. See the folks at Andersen Windows for all of the window and skylight products you need to fill your new home with light and warmth. And as always, let the Sater Design Collection help you find the perfect home plan for you today!
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