We ask a lot of our windows. A window is like a Swiss army knife: it’s a tool that’s supposed to do lots of different tasks. For certain tasks, most windows get very high marks. For other tasks, most judges would admit that windows leave a lot to be desired.
In addition to having certain functions that are planned by engineers and window designers, windows have a few accidental characteristics that we’ve all learned to live with—characteristics like condensation. Warts and all, let’s look at windows.
Windows should admit enough natural light to allow occupants to see things in the home’s interior during the day without turning on any electric lights.
Windows don’t have to be transparent to perform this function—so-called “privacy glass” (sometimes used in bathrooms) will work just fine.
Researchers who have studied the issue generally agree that windows can elevate one’s mood. It’s more pleasant to spend time in an office with nice windows than in a windowless office.
In a study titled “The Benefits of Daylight through Windows,” the authors (Peter Boyce, Claudia Hunter, and Owen Howlett) concluded, “Psychologically, daylight and a view are much desired.”
This statement comes with a few caveats: “There is no simple recipe for what lighting conditions produce the most positive mood. Windows are strongly favored in work places for the daylight they deliver and the view out they provide, as long as they do not cause visual or thermal discomfort or a loss of privacy.” More information on these caveats can be found in the study report.
In the middle of a very bright sunny day, few people want to sit near a south-facing window unless the window is partially shaded by blinds or curtains. Very strong sunlight causes glare,…