Natural lighting refers to the lighting that is generated naturally with the help of natural sources such as the sun or the stars. The technique of natural lighting harnessing requires strategic use of natural light to be let into your home with the help of careful architectural designs such as windows or skylights. Unlike artificial lighting, natural lighting is free and hence reduces energy requirements significantly. It has also been proven to increase health and comfort levels. Before modern lamps were discovered, architects relied heavily on the Sun and its positions by designing large windows or designing the house orientation according to the sun’s changing positions throughout the day. In recent years, most architects are once again advocating for a balanced way of accommodating natural sunlight in house designs to save money as well as stay healthy.
What are the Principles of Natural Lighting?
While the idea of natural lighting may seem as simple as using the sources to light up your indoors, it in fact is a little more complicated. For example, letting sunlight in is crucial but how much sunlight should be let in? Sun is not only a source of light but it also gives off a lot of heat and glare which may cause discomfort when received in larger amounts. Therefore, it is crucial that the natural light used is not only effective but also well-balanced. This brings us to the various principles that determine how we use natural lighting when designing our homes.
The sun is not stationary. It keeps changing its position throughout the day, a fact that needs to be kept in mind to best apply natural lighting, so that they properly integrate with your home lighting design. The major principles of natural lighting are therefore to use the lighting phases, maximise lighting and manipulate lighting in a way that you get a controlled as well as efficient admission of natural light.
How Natural Lighting Should Be?
Due to its countless benefits, natural lighting has been quite a popular concept recently. However, it is worth noting that natural lighting is not without its shortcomings. There are certain very important factors that should be taken into account when designing the lighting requirements of your house. Most people do not understand that daylighting requires more than just building windows and skylights. For effective use of daylighting, it is crucial that the use is strategic and controlled. Because the sun is such a powerful source of natural light, it can also produce a tremendous amount of heat making it uncomfortably hot for you during the summer days. Therefore, if not planned carefully, using natural lighting can result in undesirable heat gains. Strategic placement of windows or wall openings is also important to ensure that the daylighting can properly illuminate the space as many times, as architectural obstructions such as the roof or the building angles can prevent the daylight from entering and lighting up your space. Arrangements should also be made so that the daylight received is not very harsh on the eyes as it may cause strains. It should be ample but also warm on the eyes.
What are Natural Lighting Sources?
Everything we see around us is simply because of light. Light reflects off of the surface of various objects because of which we are able to see things, making light a very necessary requirement in our daily lives. However, where does light come from? There are multiple sources of light, natural and artificial. While artificial sources of light are something that came into existence very late, natural lighting sources have been there forever. Here are some of the major sources of natural light that are also used to reduce the usage of artificial sources of light.
- The Sun: The sun has to be the oldest and most prominent source of natural light there. The light obtained from the Sun is easy to access and there is abundant availability as well. Sunlight is a major factor behind the sustainability of life on planet Earth. The energy from the Sun does not only give us light but also warmth and can be harnessed in multiple ways to reduce energy consumption. Sunlight is free and can illuminate a space for a long time without any production of harmful chemicals, making it an environmentally wise choice as well. Sunlight can also be transformed into electricity by installing solar panels or bulbs which once again is a free and eco–friendly lighting option. There are multiple health benefits to spending time in sunlight as well.
- The Stars: While the sun is also a star, its close proximity to the Earth means that we receive the brightest light from it. Other stars which are mostly visible at night also produce their own light but because of the huge distance between the Earth and these stars, only a small amount of light reaches the surface of the earth. However, even that amount of light proves to be very helpful at night along a dark path. Many times, travelers rely on the light coming from these stars to find their way at night.
- The Moon: The moon does not produce its own light, in fact, it reflects the light of the Sun. However, due to its close proximity to the planet Earth, on most days, we experience bright light coming from it. On days like the full moon day, the moon acts as a huge flood light in the sky as well. The best thing about moonlight is that it does not emit heat like sunlight. Instead, it has a cool glow which makes sitting under the moonlight at night very desirable.
- Lightning: Certain natural phenomena also emit light such as volcanic eruptions or lightning. Lightning occurs when there is an imbalance in the charges contained by the grounds and the cloud. The negative charges in the clouds get attracted to the positive charges on the surface of the earth, creating a quick electrical discharge that results in the formation of lightning. Lighting is considered to be very dangerous as it contains significantly high joules of energy and with one strike can kill a human being.
- Bioluminescence: Some living organisms can also be considered to be a natural source of light as they emit light due to certain chemical reactions that happen within their body. Fireflies, jellyfish, glow-worms, some microorganisms, and deep-sea plants are some of the prime examples of this category. While the light from these organisms and plants may not be enough to light up surroundings significantly, these are still put under the label of natural sources of lighting.
Why is Natural Lighting Important?
As modern human beings, we prefer to spend most of our time indoors, at our home, at the office, or even when it comes to playing games, we prefer indoor games more. However, scientists have vociferously argued that so much indoor time may not be very good for our mental and physical health. This is one of the major reasons why more people are actively choosing places with parks around or designing their homes in a way where they can have a patio, balcony, or roof to get more natural light. Natural light helps us in many ways. It makes us more focused and productive. Soaking up sunlight early in the morning has so many health benefits. The rays help us cope with anxiety, provide us with Vitamin D, boost our immune system, and also regulate our cardiac rhythm. Vitamin D alone helps to strengthen our bones and a lack of vitamin D has also been linked to causing depression, obesity, and possibly even multiple sclerosis. While the sun may not give us vitamin D directly, it helps our body produce its own. When it comes to our home also, natural lighting is a miraculous thing. It helps the house plants thrive and flourish which in turn, gives us clean air to breathe. It also works as a natural sanitizer, helping eliminate harmful germs and bacteria. During the cold, dark, and gloomy days of winter, natural light does wonder as a source of illumination and warmth, making your space cosy and comforting.
What are the Benefits of Natural Lighting?
Studies have shown that people subconsciously seek out naturally lit places to enjoy and spend time in natural light because there are numerous benefits associated with it. From health to the environment to even your wallet, the use of natural light has benefits for all. With more architects advocating for a controlled allowance of natural light in modern homes, it is important that we dive in to understand what are the various benefits of natural lighting that doctors and scientists talk so much about.
1. Provides Energy Savings
In an average household, lighting makes up for about one-third of the total energy consumption, thus, contributing to a good share of the energy bills as well. Now we all know, electricity isn’t cheap today! Just imagine what would happen to your electricity bills if you needed to keep all your lights on from early morning to late night. Especially if the bulbs are not very energy efficient to start with. That is a scary thought, isn’t it? Well, this is why you should invest more in letting natural light illuminate your space whenever possible. First of all, it is totally free. Secondly, it has numerous benefits for your physical as well as mental health. While the cost of installing windows or glass doors to let in enough sunlight might be higher upfront, once installed, they won’t cost you anything but save you big money on your monthly energy bills. Natural lighting does not only help you with saving energy bills on lighting but also on heating. During the cold days of winter, natural light works wonders to keep your home and yourself warm and cosy. It goes without saying then that strategic use of natural light provides energy saving in multiple ways.
2. Nature Friendly
Artificial electricity generation is one of the biggest contributors to pollution in the world as it leads to the production of harmful chemicals such as sulfur dioxide, and carbon and mercury emissions. Electricity production has other harmful effects on the environment as well. It adversely impacts the water quality and leads to an increase in the industrial zones as well as production waste. Therefore, a reduction in the use of artificial lighting is a vital step towards attaining sustainability, and making use of natural lighting can be the first major step towards this goal. Adding natural light to your home lighting system gives you illumination without turning on the lights, thus saving energy. Less energy use means a reduction in the burning of fossil fuels which in turn means a decrease in the production of harmful chemicals and production waste which are highly disadvantageous to the environment. Natural light also protects your plants and helps them thrive. In the simplest terms, accommodating the strategic use of natural lighting is your contribution towards a greener and more sustainable tomorrow.
3. Increases Efficiency
According to many doctors, natural light has multiple health benefits for us. It helps our physical and mental health in a number of ways thus not only improving our strength but also increasing our efficiency. It helps improve your brain functions and increases your focus and productivity throughout the day. A few minutes a day in the morning sunlight increases your alertness and your attention span. This comes in very handy when you are trying to accomplish a challenging task. Studies have also proven that students who learn in a classroom with ample natural lighting are more likely to become fast learners with improved memory function. Sunlight also helps in the production of happy hormones such as endorphins and serotonin which play a crucial role in helping depressive thoughts and help you feel better and have a more optimistic outlook. Modern offices are increasingly investing in architecture to let in more sunlight as studies have shown that it significantly improves their performance and productivity.