GREEN LIGHT MEANS GO

Whether you’ve just bought your first home, plan to sell in 5 years, want to sell your home now, or plan to buy in 5 years, you should know the basics of indoor lighting.     From economics to aesthetics, from respecting the environment to lifting your mood, adjusting the natural daylight in your home can make a good space fabulous.     Even on a humble recession budget, you can implement natural lighting and reap the benefits.

Lighting is significant to your home’s aesthetic.   Natural light creates a more attractive, brightly lit interior.   Creating this aesthetic needn’t cost a fortune.   If you’re creative or know someone who is, you can really make the most of natural lighting without breaking the bank.     It’s not so much how many windows you have; it’s how you use the light that shines through them that counts.

The more reflective your room surfaces, the less your home’s interior will absorb light.   Your ceiling reflects the most light.   From the ceiling, light moves downward into your living space.   You want to distribute your natural light deeply into your home’s interior as much as possible.   To lighten up, consider a very basic element:   The colors of the inferior walls.   Lightly-hued walls can work wonders in enhancing your interior lighting without spending a fortune.

Balance is key to effective, efficient natural lighting.   You may, in fact, have too much interior lighting.   Excess lighting not only wastes energy, but also brings the byproduct of glare.   Are your car’s windows lightly tinted to adjust for the glare of natural light?     Why would you take any less care to adjust for glare within your home?   Direct sunlight streaming through windows-especially large, plentiful windows-makes you physically uncomfortable.

Interior window shades and blinds are simple, inexpensive and effective answers to interior glare.   Be sure to keep them clean for optimum performance.   A drawback of traditional interior window shades and blinds?   They don’t reduce solar heat gain.   If that’s unacceptable to you, opt for exterior window shades.  You will pay more for the structural integrity required for the exterior shades to hold up to winds, but they will provide both glare and solar heat reduction.   Be sure your exterior shades are accessible, so you can clean them easily and regularly.     Another option is blinds or louvers installed inside a window, which reduces glare and solar heat, although not as well as exterior shades.   However, you will not have to worry about protection from the wind, as you would with exterior shades.   You can also find shades that are automated.

Look for innovative glare-reducing lightshelves, louvers, and fins as excellent architectural options for balancing natural lighting.    These are best implemented early in the design process of a home, so if you’re shopping for a home, you’d be lucky to find one with these money-saving features.  Lightshelves, horizontal structures that are mounted to a building’s interior or exterior, block glare as they bounce daylight onto your ceiling.   They are not only great energy savers, but also provide aesthetic appeal.

Horizontal, exterior louvers are slats that operate manually or mechanically to reduce sunlight from entering a building.   Also helpful in reducing glare are fins, which are similar to louvers but are vertical.   Louvers and fins are a good choice in reducing sunlight from entering south-facing windows.

You might want to look at sensors as another sustainable means of controlling indoor light.   Daylighting sensors are able to measure the amount of sunlight in your home and adjust your electric lighting according to outside conditions.   Dimming sensors are best used in rooms frequently occupied, while on-off occupancy sensors are appropriate in rooms less frequented, such as a bathroom.   These sensors are controlled automatically and do the amazing job of keeping your indoor light levels balanced throughout the day.   You’ll notice a savings in your energy bill as electric light is balanced with natural light through these devices.

2924 W. WilsonYou might not think about it, but your landscape also bears on indoor lighting and glare.   Consider the shade that trees provide.   If you landscape with deciduous trees, you’ll benefit all year round.   In summer, leaf-covered branches shield your home from glare.   In the winter, leaf-bare branches invite sunshine and warmth into your home.

Next time you take a walk, notice the innovative building designs of residential and commercial Chicago, and you’ll recognize these interesting exterior architectural options to control indoor lighting.   Apply one or a combination of these to your own home.   Not only will your home look and feel better, but you’ll also be helping your wallet and the environment.

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