Integrating Natural Daylight into your Lighting Design
In the Altiplano de Granada, a mountainous region in Spain between Sierra de Castril and Sierra Nevada, there are many houses built into the mountains called 'cave houses'. To some they might be considered a desirable residence, but imagine once you have passed through the rooms at the front of the house, you then enter a property completely without natural light. Quite apart from any feeling of light deprivation and claustrophobia you might experience, think about the utility bills! Admittedly, this area has a wonderful climate for most of the year, so sitting outside is a great option, however relaxing in the garden in January, in your thermal underwear may well not appeal.
You may be thinking - well of course I have natural daylight in my home – I have windows -. but knowing how to utilise them together with electric lighting is not so straightforward as you might think. In fact, when planned correctly, you can actually reduce your energy costs. Think about it; we all take natural light for granted, but one thing is guaranteed, especially with the British climate, there will be many dark and moody days, when regardless of how many windows you have, your house will be gloomy and in need of lighting.
Why Natural Light Is Essential To You
Your body will respond to light and it helps regulate out 'internal clock'. For example, when it gets light we get up and when it gets dark we go to sleep. This is one of the reasons why people get jet lag on long haul flights – because the body clock is turned around. Often dull, sunless days can be the cause of tiredness and lethagy. There are many more examples, such as:
- Light is vital to our health and also to how we feel
- Light ensures that we remain alert and are able to be productive during the day
- Light helps the body to store calcium and phosphates in the form of vitamin D – essential for strong bones and teeth
- Sunlight will make you feel happier and more inclined to exercise, even just by taking a walk
- Your concentration improves
- Healing time can be reduced by natural light
It is therefore, essential that you incorporate as much natural light into your home as possible when planning your lighting design. This will also help to reduce energy consumption, especially if you consider using LED or energy efficient bulbs.
So – Where To Start?
When choosing your lighting, take a look at each individual room and make a note of how much natural light it receives and at what time of day. Perhaps you will notice some dark corners which would benefit from a floor lamp or wall lights. The area where you and your family eat should have a more direct form of lighting, although as with most rooms, dimmer switches are great. Lighting creates the mood, so a lovey-dovey meal for two can be about as romantic as a cheese sandwich in the car on a wet day, if you have bright lights shining down on you and candlelight can create very unattractive shadows!
There are of course rooms where good lighting is essential, such as the kitchen and a home office, but again consider where the natural light comes in – this is why most kitchens have the sink by the window. There are many gorgeous styles of lighting available which will really stretch your imagination. If you need any advice, just give one of the Kes Lighting customer service team a call or send us an email. We can advise you on what will be the best options and the cheapest to run.
How To Add Natural Light When Building Or Renovating
Adding extra windows is always a good idea when designing a new build or a renovation and the larger the windows the better. However there are many things to consider such as direct sunlight will fade furniture and soft furnishings. It will also make the room very hot during the summer months. If you have air conditioning, this means that it will have to work extra hard, increasing your electricity bill. There is also the privacy issue to consider if your house is overlooked in any way. A great way to increase natural light is with skylights, so if a conservatory, kitchen extension or a loft conversion is being contemplated, then this is the perfect opportunity to add natural light, although do buy good quality blackout blinds or shutters for your loft room. It is wonderful to lie in bed gazing up at the stars, but not so good being woken at sunrise!
Types of Lighting To Compliment Your Natural Light
Once you have decided where you need to place your lights, the next decision is what type of lights to buy. Perhaps you want to create a vision of colour when the sunlight is flooding your room; in which case take a look at crystal. You can buy these in any style, from chandeliers to wall lights and when the sunlight reflects of the crystal drops, your room will come alive with reflected colours. Perhaps the Tiffany style of lighting is more to your taste, providing a subtle, yet very beautiful lighting. The modern home will require something contemporary, while still able to reflect light, so consider finishes in polished chrome and stainless steel.
You are probably already starting to see how, with a little bit of thought, your lighting design can work together with the natural light coming into your home, while also creating a stunning feature in every room. Not only can you reduce your utility bills by choosing energy saving lighting, but you can also turn your rooms into places of beauty with or without natural light. In the evening, once it gets dark, your home becomes your sanctuary; what could be better than pouring a glass of wine, putting your feet up on the sofa and gazing around a room which is lit to perfection.