Sunlight makes things grow, keeps your dog or cat happy, it can uplift your spirits and provide additional warmth. It also can provide a free alternative to electric lighting during daylight hours. There is however a tradeoff or price to be paid for the benefits it brings. The dilemma is getting more natural sunlight into your house while containing the cost.
Getting more sunlight into your house means increasing the amount of glass. The glass can be vertical as in windows and doors or horizontal as with skylights. If you increase the number or size of either you allow for more sunlight to enter your property. Well, there you have it. A simple answer. Maybe I should quit while I am ahead . . . NOT LIKELY!
Depending on your climate the increased amount of sunlight you let in may have some drawbacks. Sunlight can be disruptive if you have too much of it in a bedroom when you want to sleep in late. It also can create glare on large screen TV when you want to watch a movie during the middle of the day. These things can be mitigated by using shades or blinds to control that amount of sunlight allowed into any space at any different time but comes at an additional cost.
This brings me to a separate, but equally important topic . . . COST. To most people cost means money or things that can be measured in terms of money. Cost, however, can come in many forms like inconvenience, uncomfortableness, etc. these costs are non-monetary costs to human existence. Additionally, there can be even more monetary costs than the initial purchase price of a product like life-cycle, maintenance and other tangible costs. The lesson here is look at the bigger picture over your long-term engagement with the respective costs of a decision as compared to the benefits. When you do the best solution usually wins out.
There are thermal consequences to sunlight also. If you live in the south and have more of an air conditioning problem than a heating one, you want to avoid allowing the sunlight to heat up a room especially during the midday peaks. North facing glass and shading can help with this. Architects and designers have become very clever at handling this radiant heat component of sunlight. In northern climates poorly insulated windows and doors can allow the loss of heat through the glass making the space uncomfortable during the winter months.
The doors, windows and skylights that carry the glass that allows the sun to shine through have their own downsides. The glass and frames are not as good at insulating your house as the solid walls. Some jurisdictions limit the amount of glass you can have by code to keep the overall “envelope” of the house to a suitable energy consumption level. The typical equation is the more glass the more energy it will take to keep the temperatures comfortable inside.
One of the ways of offsetting the buildup of heat is ventilation. Fixed glass does not allow for ventilation, but it also doesn’t allow for air leakage in most cases. Windows and doors that can open on nice days allow for free cooling. The perfect solution would be operable windows and doors that have great gasketing or sealing systems in them to keep the inside air where it belongs. Day in and day out, season by season, sunlight and the glass that allows it inside needs to be flexible to supply you with the best solution.
Our 2Fold™ doors and windows are designed to provide as much natural sunlight to come through as you could possible want because they have about 35% more glass area than other windows or bi-folding glass doors due to the thinnest in class frames. They also have the added benefit of easy operation and fully open to allow the cool air to flow through your home. This flexibility is always at your control. The best of both worlds.
Originally published 2/21/2017