Renters pay higher rent for it. Realtors brag about it in For Sale ads. Everyone craves it. Natural daylight.
Generally, I abhor violence. I've read Gandhi's Satyagraha on non-violent resistance . . . twice. But sometimes I walk into poorly lit buildings or homes and I just want to punch the architect in the face.
Designing buildings to harvest natural daylight is not rocket science. Yet sadly, here we are. We spend our days entombed in homes, offices, and schools that lack decent light.
Often, it's just not possible to take a sledge hammer and force new holes in our walls to put in proper windows. Many historic homes have wonderful daylight (many were built before electricity), but they still may have many dark spaces that lack light.
So, what's a poor, dark soul to do? Here are five cost-effective ways to get more light into nearly any space.
Yes, paint. Color either absorbs light or reflects it. Lighter colors can bounce light around a room and brighten the space. Avoid deep, dark colors on walls furthest from the windows. If you want to make small space seem large and bright, then add a coat of light colored paint.
2. Solar tubes.
Photo credit to Solatube
Also called tubular skylights, solar tubes can bring light from the rooftop down a few stories. Some tubes can bring in light as far as 30 feet. Unlike skylights, these solar tubes don't need any structural changes, are virtually leakproof, and help save energy.
Check out: Solatube
3. Open spaces between closets or bathrooms.
Closets, bathrooms, and other small interior spaces are often cut off from natural light. However, they may be adjacent to rooms with big windows that are flooded with sunlight. Many older homes were built with transom windows above the doorways to allow light to bounce freely from one room to the next. You can recreate this by adding windows through walls into stairwells, closets or bathrooms, letting rooms share daylight.
4. Use translucent blinds.
Photo credit to EcoSmartShades
Avoid blinds that block out all light during the day. You can get both privacy and daylight. Translucent blinds softly filter the sun's rays, give you privacy, and allow glorious daylight to fill your space. Good blinds can also save energy by keeping heat inside in the winter and outside in the summer. And top-down/bottom-up shades allow you to let light in from the top of the window while reducing glare with the shade on the lower half of the window.
Check out: EcoSmartShades: http://ecosmartshades.com/ (This is what I have in my net zero energy home.)
5. Trim bushes and trees.
There are many good reasons to have trees around your home. However, when they are too close or on the wrong side of your house, they can be a nuisance and sometimes even a hazard. In most regions, you should avoid trees on the southern side of your home. In the summer, the sun will be too high for trees on the south side of your home to provide shade. In the winter, the trees will block your home from solar warmth. Trim trees and bushes that are blocking light from your home.