Getting more natural light into the home is something at the top of most people’s house list. A bright, well lit home is a particularly desired characteristic for both buyers, sellers and current occupiers.
It’s all because natural light is important. And there are good reasons for that which we’ll explore.
Most people love that feeling of sunlight on their face. That lovely warmth radiating throughout your body. It makes us feel better. Despite the mental wellbeing benefits, we don’t necessarily think of natural light as being important to our overall health. But it is.
Natural light in your home can make a huge difference to how it feels and operates. The benefits of getting natural light in your home are widespread and range from personal improvements to environmental ones. Natural light is also a fantastic partner for those who care about creating a more sustainable home and for those, like me, who love indoor house plants.
So let’s take a deeper look at why natural light is important in the home and how you can maximise the amount of natural light that gets in.
Benefits of natural light in the home
Because of the way we humans have evolved, natural light is the main trigger that keeps our body and mind functioning like clockwork.
It’s likely you’ve heard of a circadian rhythm. This is your 24 hour internal body clock, sometimes known as the sleep/wake cycle. In simple terms it regulates all bodily functions that occur over a full day, as well as impacting on energy levels and wellbeing, but must be reset on a daily basis to remain accurate. This has to be done via an external cue, which is where exposure to light and darkness comes in.
Getting more natural light in your home will bring plenty of benefits. It will help you save energy by reducing your use of electricity and gas, it will make your home feel naturally warmer and welcoming, it will boost occupants’ mood and focus, improve overall wellbeing, as well as being great for your house plants.
Here’s a rundown of the importance and main benefits that natural light will bring to your home and the people inside:
- Reduces reliance on heating, saving money and energy
- Reduces need for artificial lights, saving money and electrical energy
- Improves wellbeing and mood
- Reduces stress and feelings of anxiety
- Increase focus and energy levels during the day (great if you work from home)
- Getting sunlight during the day helps us to feel sleepy at night
- Stimulates vitamin D production
- Beneficial for your indoor house plants – which also bring their own health benefits
- Good natural light levels will increase the value of your home (especially when combined with a great view)
Getting more natural light in your home is a fantastic way to capture the benefits of this amazing health source throughout the day.
It’s also great for eco-friendly homes, meaning we can use less electricity and energy in our home, increasing our sustainability.
How to get more natural light in your home
The amount of natural light that makes its way into your home depends on a number of different factors. Some changeable, some not so.
The biggest factor is the direction in which your home is orientated, which isn’t very easily changeable. But there are some simpler tips and techniques you can implement to get more natural light into your home, which we’ll come into shortly.
The way your house faces
Many people like a south-facing garden to make the most of the sun during the evening. However, a south-facing garden probably means a north-facing house, which wouldn’t be exposed to much sunlight during the day. If you spend a lot of time at home during the day, this wouldn’t be ideal.
In the UK, a south-facing home general gets the most amount of natural light during the day. This is because the sun rises in the East and tracks across the southern half of the sky before setting in the West.
East-facing homes get lots of morning sun in through the front, but not so much in the evening. If you have a west-facing garden, or a room at the back of your house facing west, you’ll get plenty of evening sun too.
A west-facing house will have the sunrise at the back of the house and the sun flooding through the front during the evening. An east facing garden will get the sun in the morning and early afternoon but it tends to disappear during the evening time.
If you own a shepherd’s hut or some other type of mobile small home, you do have a choice in which way it faces. If you have the right space, position your tiny home so you get the most amount of sunlight flooding in through doors and windows during the day.
It’s highly likely that you’ll spend more time outside in this scenario, but if you work in a shepherd’s hut office or when it comes to winter, you’ll be spending more time indoors and it’s best to get the most natural light coming in.
If you have a bit of budget to play with, you can make fairly modest changes that will make a big difference.
Change round internal room use
The way your traditional bricks and mortar house cannot be changed, although you can change room use to make the most of the natural light you get.
On a bigger scale, you can also renovate the house to the type of orientation you desire. If you like the sun in your living room during the evening, make sure it faces to the West. If you really want to have the sun in your kitchen during the day, you’ll want it south-facing.
Add windows and sky lights
Adding windows in walls that get sun through the day, particularly south-facing walls, will have a huge impact. The more windows you have the more natural light will get in. Sky lights are fantastic for this and will make a big difference whichever way your house faces.
Add glass doors or sliding doors at the back
The more glass you have throughout your home and on the outside, the less light will be blocked. Bi-folding doors are currently a very popular way to connect the inside of a home to the outside. They also let in a huge amount of natural light. Sliding doors and patio doors have the same effect.
A little tip is to make sure any doors have minimum trim and solid material and maximum glass. This will cost more but the difference is noticeable. Have a read here to see how sustainable glass is.
How to make the most of natural light in your home
If you haven’t got a big budget to play with and live in small home or even a tiny home, there are a few good simple tips you can follow to make the most of the natural sunlight without contacting builders and architects or making any major changes.
- Pull the curtains right back and open the blinds fully during the day
- Use white window frames and trim to reflect the natural light
- Regularly clean your windows
- Don’t use big heavy drapes
- Don’t place any big furniture items in front of your windows
- Place mirrors strategically near windows to reflect natural light deeper into your home
- Make use of glass doors where possible
- Use light colours within your interior design
- Trim any trees or bushes outside that may be blocking a lot of light (be careful not to disturb any wildlife and also make sure you have the correct permissions)
Is too much natural light and sun exposure a bad thing?
Too much sunlight can undoubtedly be a bad thing. The harmful effects of sun and danger of overexposure on your skin has been the main message from health organisations over the past century.
Balancing this only tells one side of the story. Excessive sunlight exposure (that’s exposure to ultraviolet radiation) accounts for 1.5 million, or 0.1%, of the total global burden of disease in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). This is a measure of how much a person’s expectancy of a healthy life is reduced by premature death or disability caused by disease.
On the flip side, there’s a much larger annual disease burden of 3.3 billion DALYs associated with low levels of UVR exposure, mainly coming from vitamin D deficiencies. Of course, it’s important to protect skin that will be exposed to strong sunlight for a while.
For more information, read this science-packed blog on why getting regular natural light will improve health and wellbeing.
Getting more natural light into your home is incredibly important.
You will not only reap the health and psychological benefits but you’ll find that you require less on electricity and other artificial lighting which will help make your home more environmentally friendly.
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Ben is the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about more sustainable, environmentally friendly living in and around the home.
Alongside this website, I love spending time in the natural world, living a simple life and spending time with my young family (Murphy the dog!) I round up my thoughts and recent blogs on the Eco Life Newsletter.