Maximizing the Benefits of Natural Light

Toll Brothers’ vendor partner Western Window Systems, contributed to this story.

When house-hunting, we all enter the process with different mental checklists of what we want and need: Big master bedroom? Walk-in closet? Fireplace? Ample space for entertaining? Kitchen island? The list goes on.

Everyone’s priorities are different, but one aspect of a potential new home should not go ignored, and that’s the role natural light plays in the house. In architecture and home building, it’s called “daylighting,” or the incorporation of natural light admittance. Daylighting helps to reduce the need for artificial light, can shrink electric costs by 24 percent to 80 percent, and improve the general well-being of a home’s residents.

“The best thing we can do is provide as much opportunity for homeowners to manipulate natural light on their own as they experience it,” says Tim Gehman, director of design at Toll Brothers.

Why? Because research has shown that natural light positively affects one’s physical and mental health, lowering the chance for depression and increasing a homeowner’s connection to their surroundings.

Maximizing the benefits of natural light has long been a priority for Toll Brothers by creating highly connective indoor and outdoor spaces, and large moving walls of glass from Western Window Systems help to make this possible.

“It’s about using Western Window Systems’ multi-slide and bi-fold doors as a method to create outdoor spaces with a great connection into the house,” says Jed Gibson, President of Toll Brothers’ Architecture group.

Gibson and Gehman say the trend with homeowners is toward having more glass in their homes, hence the possibility for more natural light. With recent improvements in glass technology, resulting in better insulation values and solar-glare reduction, they are able to deliver upon the desire for home designs with more and bigger glass.

“You can certainly get more natural light because of the openness of the door,” Gehman says. “You won’t spend as much on artificial light to perform your tasks, and the dimension of the Western Window Systems door we use allows for more natural light.”

These huge moving panels of glass usually are found in the walls separating the home and covered spaces in recent Toll Brothers home designs. And when they are open, they often slide into pockets in the wall, completely disappearing and expanding both indoor and outdoor living spaces where you are likely to spend much of your time, as weather permits.

“The value of the door is their absence,” Gehman says. “They can go away and completely open up those spaces.”

Gehman goes on to elaborate on another benefit of Toll Brothers’ outdoor living spaces and Western Window Systems’ aluminum multi-slide doors:“The covered outdoor spaces are not actually just to keep weather off you. They’re actually covered to create privacy.”

And improved use of daylighting is advantageous in terms of energy efficiency, too. For instance, Toll Brothers’ covered luxury outdoor living spaces, coupled with a large multi-slide door, protect the inside spaces from direct sunlight, meaning that when the door is opened as the sun retreats in the evening hours, cooler air is allowed to course through the home and stored warmer interior air is released.

“You can make the transition from hot to cold much faster, improving energy efficiency,” Gehman says. “And one of the really nice things about it if you’re in an area that is bug-heavy is that you can screen the outside of the outdoor living space and get the same experience and create year-round spaces. It will actually hold in heat and artificial cooling as well, if you use high-end screening.”

As a homebuyer, an increased knowledge of natural light and its benefits will only help you as you hunt for that perfect house. And Toll Brothers’ use of consumer technology, like virtual reality, only makes it easier for buyers.

“I think you’ll see people use more and more of it,” Gehman says. “I think the trend is toward visualization technology, which is empowering our buyers to see what they’re purchasing before it physically exists.”

For additional information about this article and to discover how to make your Toll Brothers home more energy efficient visit our Toll Talks blog! Read about the latest technological advancements, available appliances, and how you can locate the home of your dreams.

 

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