A Case Study: Four Options To Get More Natural Light Into Your Home

We all know that sunlight is good for us: it helps us grow, brings us smile and makes us more productive. When it comes to housing, natural light saves us money in lighting and heating. However, with the increasing population and the development of the urban environment, buildings that lack an adequate amount of natural light start to emerge. For instance, some of us may live in apartments where there’s no direct access to sunlight. Or sometimes, as in the case of our property, it might be facing in the wrong direction or receiving shading from the properties surrounding us.

Our house falls straight into the second category. As we’re going to carry out an earthquake repair for our home later this year and I’d love to gain more daylight/sunlight into our living room, I thought this would be a good case study for our article.

After researching and asking around, with the help of Warren Clarke, the Beach Hut Architecture in Christchurch NZ, we came up with four options to introduce natural light into our home. The solutions listed in this article may be more specific to our house. However, the general principles should still apply to most buildings. Please feel free to chip in and share your thoughts with us.

Before we start, it is essential to know the difference between daylight and sunlight.

Daylight is the volume of natural light entering the house through windows. It is vital to illuminate your homes. Sunlight is referred to as actual sunshine coming into the house. It has higher radiation and brings in warmth. Too much sunlight is not suitable for any building, as it would overheat the place quickly and it might blind you. Too little sunlight, like in our home, forces us to wear more sweaters at home than when we are outside in winter.

Here is the layout of our house, the arrow points to the North, the position of the midday sun for our property. Our house was likely built as a holiday batch once upon a time. As time progressed, other parts were added onto the house. With a new building beside us that is 6 metres high, we do not get a lot of sunlight anymore in winter.

In summer the sun is shining from about 7 am until around 12:30 pm into our windows in the living room. The sun then moves above the house. In winter the neighbouring house shades all but our roof until 11 am. From 11 am until 12:30 pm, we do get sunlight in our living room windows. After 12:30 pm, the sun does not move above our house. It moves lower and is shining onto the toilet wall, entrance and through a small window into our laundry space.

Here is the roofline of our property, with the arrows pointing towards the lower points in our roof structure.

There are four ways to get more light into our living room: change the layout of ou