NORTH COUNTY – A dark home can be dreary and drain its residents’ energy levels rather quickly. Natural light has the power to make a person feel more energized, and it also can buoy spirits. As a result, many homeowners want to increase the amount of natural light in their homes.
Increasing natural sunlight in a home reduces reliance on interior lighting. This reduces energy bills and lowers the home’s carbon footprint. Natural light also can help people in a home feel happier and more content.
According to the National Institute of Health, some people experience serious mood changes during the winter months. Dubbed seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, this condition may be effectively treated with light therapy. Exposure to more light can alleviate fatigue, loss of interest and sad or anxious feelings. Homeowners looking to increase the natural light in their homes, be it for medical or aesthetic reasons, can do so in a variety of ways.
• Keep the drapes open. Opening blinds and curtains as far as they will go allows as much light to shine in without having to do major home renovations or spend any money at all. Homeowners concerned about privacy can install a window film that allows viewing from the inside only.
• Clean the windows. Dirty windows obstruct sunlight from entering the home. They also can make a home appear unkempt. Spend a free day cleaning the windows so that they’ll let ample light in.
• Install seamless or low-profile windows and doors. Seamless sliding doors enable a large amount of light to enter the home. Such doors can replace an entire wall to brighten up a dark area of a home. The more windows and doors a home has, the brighter it will be.
• Take inventory of dark spots. A room may be dark because it simply does not have a layout conducive to brightness. Is a wall blocking light from reaching a portion of the room? Think about changing the room’s layout or even making structural changes to improve light distribution. The addition of a small window on a south- or west-facing wall can greatly improve natural light. Using mirrors can also reflect light where it is needed.
• Invest in skylights or solar tubes. Both skylights and solar tubes enable light to enter a home from above. Skylights are larger and require considerably more work to install, while solar tubes are more low-profile and can be put into rooms that do not abut the roofline, such as those obstructed by attic space. The tubular cylinders are installed between the roof and the ceiling and carry light through a reflective tube to the room below. Diffusers on tubular day-lighting devices scatter the rays so the light doesn’t cast harsh shadows, and UV filters can help protect furniture from discoloring.
• Trim shrubs and trees. If trees and bushes are blocking light from entering the home, trim them to enable dappled light to come through. Deciduous trees that will naturally lose their leaves come autumn can be planted on sunny areas of the property. This way, in the summer months, they will shade the house and keep it cooler, while in winter more sun will stream in when the leaves are shed.
• Create a three-season room. Make a spot in the home where sun will be at a premium. A solarium or greenhouse attached to the home can be a warm and sunny spot.
Increasing natural light in a home can improve feelings of well-being and also reduce energy consumption during daylight hours.