Wild seasonal temperature changes and the high utility bills extreme temperatures can cause - no wonder a change in season can make many Americans feel down, or even outright depressed. Maybe we all just need to lighten up - literally.
You can use natural light to enhance your home’s livability, not to mention your mood, this winter. Bringing ample natural light into your house can also help trim utility bills by reducing your dependence on electricity to power artificial lighting, and gas or oil to heat your home.
Designers bring daylight into a home through decorating techniques like light-colored, reflective walls and architectural details like skylights. Updating your decor can be cost-effective if you don’t have the budget for a remodel. If you are willing and able to spend just a little bit more, installing a traditional skylight or tubular version can yield remarkable results for a relatively small investment.
Here are three areas to focus on when using light to improve your home’s livability this winter:
Windows are, of course, the primary source of natural light in any home. South-facing windows will capture the most sunlight during the winter, but don’t overlook the value of windows on other sides of the home, as well. During the day, even on rainy days, be sure to completely open curtains or drapes and raise blinds - don’t just “open” Venetian blinds - to maximize the light entering your home.
If windows are drafty, don’t rely on heavy drapes or curtains to keep the chill out. Properly seal around windows, or consider a kit that adds a further layer of insulation with a clear plastic membrane over the window.
Skylights are another great way to bring more natural light into your home during the winter. They can be positioned virtually anywhere on the roof, and are a great way to bring light into problematic areas like the bath (where uncovered windows can compromise privacy) or a walk-in closet. Tubular skylights, such as the Sun Tunnel skylight, can even deliver natural light to lower levels of a home.
Modern skylights are, in many situations, actually easier to add to your home than a new window. And contemporary technology helps eliminate some of the stereotypical worries associated with skylights, such as leaking or too much heat entering the home in summer. In fact, skylight manufacturer Velux America markets a “No Leak Skylight” that is guaranteed to be leak-free when installed properly. And the company also offers a line of accessories, like remote-controlled blinds, that can help minimize heat transfer during warm months. Log on to www.veluxusa.com to learn more.
Adding a skylight can also help improve the air quality in your home - something that might concern you as your family spends more time indoors, with the windows closed, during cold winter months. Venting skylights provide passive ventilation without the cost associated with mechanical ventilation, such as exhaust fans. Ventilation can help carry fumes, moisture, odors and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) out of the home and venting skylights can utilize sensors to close them in case of rain.
You can also use decor to enhance light’s impact in your home. Replacing heavy drapes with light, sheer curtains will allow more natural light to enter through windows. Painting walls a light color in a semi-gloss paint will also help a room appear brighter in natural light.
Even the arrangement of furniture can impact how natural light enters your home. In winter, be sure to move heavy pieces away from windows where the furniture might block light. And consider positioning mirrors where they can capture sunlight and reflect it back into the room.
The positive effects of sunlight on people’s moods and emotions are well documented. And the potential energy and cost-savings of bringing more natural light into your home can also lift your spirits as you face colder temperatures and higher utility bills this winter.