Daylighting: Thinking Outside the Bulb

Saving money on your electric bill could be as easy as turning off the lights and opening the blinds. Daylighting is using the sun’s natural light to illuminate the inside of a home. You can use daylighting in your home in several different ways.

The best type of daylight comes from the north and south-facing windows of your home. They allow the most light to penetrate through your home, while reducing glare and heat gain. East and west-facing windows are not as advantageous, producing a significant amount of glare, and absorbing the most heat in hot summer months.

If you plan to remodel your home, you may have more options to increase the amount of daylight in your home. Installing skylights is the most effective way to incorporate natural light into your home, with the least amount of external changes to the house.

Another option is to install a sun tunnel, which is a tubular skylight that provides natural light to smaller rooms, such as closets. They can be fitted to any roof, and not only provide lighting, but also filter out the sun’s harmful rays. They consist of a highly reflective metal or plastic frame and an acrylic dome to collect natural light. The light reflects off of the metal and a lens spreads it evenly across a room.

According to tests administered by The Alberta Research Council, it was found that, “one 13-inch tubular skylight had equivalent light output of up to one 700-watt incandescent bulb in December and one 1,200-watt bulb in June.” Not only are these daylighting technologies more cost efficient, they are actually comparable to lightbulbs. These solar applications in your home will not only save you money on energy bills, but also contribute to lowering the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere.

Studies have shown in several applications that daylighting does more than just save money on electricity bills, it can improve mental health as well. ASHRAE found that increased daylighting in schools improved test scores, as well as the following:

  •  “Improved visibility due to higher illumination levels;
  •  Improved visibility due to better light quality;
  •  Mental stimulation; and
  •  Improved mood, behavior or well being.”

 Who thought that a little sunshine could do so much?

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