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Making more use of natural light

One thing we’re blessed with here in the Estero area is an abundance of sunshine, providing us with warm, glorious weather that is the envy of the rest of the world. However, we Floridians rarely make the most of that natural light.

Admittedly, the sun can cause havoc in our homes and offices. It raises the temperature in the room. It can cause furniture, carpets and artwork to fade. It can even damage our skin. But with the right kind of protective glass, using double-paned windows for energy efficiency and UV glass to reduce harmful rays, you can safely allow the sunlight in. As we’ve said before, experts agree that natural light helps reduce stress, improves our productivity, and has numerous other health benefits.

Yet we still tend to block the sun out. We’ve been conditioned to cover our windows with blinds and drapes, and keep our rooms dark. Then we use electric lights instead, adding yet more heat to our rooms, putting more demands on our air conditioning, and pushing our energy bills still higher.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With good design, you can use natural light to fill your home or workspace with sunlight, which will save you energy and make your room feel more spacious and more invigorating. However, the trick isn’t simply to open the curtains and let the light it. It’s about using glass in the design to allow light to spread throughout the building, illuminating otherwise dark areas and reaching rooms that don’t even have windows.

This slide show by architect Eric Reinholdt explores interesting ways to use natural light. Look, for example, at the high frosted window glass in the gray bedroom while maintaining complete privacy. Or the way the translucent glass behind the sofa allows the room to be lit up.

In addition to the light benefits, Reinholdt notes that operable interior windows can provide much needed ventilation to interior spaces. Although it’s not often we can open our windows here in Lee County, those few days where we can let the breeze flow through the house are always a welcome pleasure.

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