Let the Sunshine in
Enjoy health perks of natural light through windowsBy Brandpoint
During winter months, sunlight can be harder to come by. Savoring every opportunity for natural sunlight is more important than ever, especially during daylight savings time. Yet humans spend an average of 90 percent of their days indoors, according to a recent study by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The best way to get natural light is to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. But those who can’t get out when they need or want to can also enjoy the health benefits of natural lighting through windows.
Natural light 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 helps regulate circadian rhythms and sleep cycles, providing more energy and better focus. One study published in an online supplement to the journal “Sleep” showed that people exposed to more natural light during the day were able to sleep an average of 46 minutes more each night.
If you decide to install or enlarge windows in your home, identify the Energy Star® climate zone you live in and select a window that meets your zone requirements. 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.
Location, location, location
If you are building new or planning a renovation, consider the direction your windows and patio doors face to take full advantage of 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.
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. Homeowners in the market for new windows should look for Energy Star-rated options, as well as windows that have argon or krypton gas fills, and are made with special Low-E glass coatings. Ply Gem is among window manufacturers that offer customizable sizes and energy-efficient options.
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