Architecture can, by all means, affect the amount of natural light a home or building receives. The variables of both position in relation to the landscape and the architectural features of the structure in question can greatly augment or inhibit the ability of the sun to illuminate its interior. How it does this is in part a function of its location, but it is also determined by its design and layout. The landscape in which a structure is located along with the materials used in its construction goes a long way in determining how much natural light is possible. By adjusting these elements or–in the case of the landscape–by adapting to them, the amount of natural light can be maximized. Not only can this make a difference when deciding on artificial light fixtures, it can also contribute directly to lower cooling costs in the summertime and reduced heating costs in the winter.
Benefits of Natural Light
Having natural light flood into your home can benefit it in a number of ways. First, it cuts down on the need for artificial illumination. Of course, this is most effective in the daylight hours, but any amount of energy saved counts. Second, natural light is also a source of heat. When light is sufficiently trapped in a space, it generates heat. In the winter, this can be quite beneficial as the heat energy thus stored reduces in small part the need for electric or gas-powered heat. In the summer, architecture that makes good use of natural light can help keep structures cool as well. Correctly using natural light does not mean just letting it in; it also means directing it in such a way as to keep the home cool.
How to Use Architecture to Your Advantage
By facing your home or building to the south, you can take advantage of the bulk of the sun’s light. A structure with a south-facing façade filled with windows will let in enormous amounts of light, virtually eliminating the need for artificial illumination. For homes, rooms that are inhabited the most such as kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms should all face south or have windows open to that direction. Windows facing the north or even the east by comparison will receive less natural light.
Roofs that slope to the ground from the south to the north also enable more natural light to flow through the entirety of the home. In the summer, this architectural arrangement allows a clear path of natural light when the sun is at its highest. With the proper placement of windows, winter sun, too, can spread throughout the upper area of the home.
During the hot summer months, adequate ventilation systems along with adjustable awnings can help to deflect much of the sun’s heat without affecting the light it produces. This way the home stays cool while retaining the benefits of natural light.
A well-built home maintains the benefit of natural light. Good architecture can make a home into a space that does not solely rely upon artificial light for illumination. By employing time-tested yet modern design principles a home can take advantage of the sun’s energy–both in terms of light and heat.