If you follow real estate at all, or watch anything on HGTV you’ve probably heard all about natural lighting. It seems like on every show, every prospective buyer says they want a lot of natural light in their home. For most people natural lighting is probably the full extent of what they know about real estate, they don’t know why everyone wants it, but since everyone wants it they assume it’s great. However have you ever wondered what the actual value of having natural lighting in your living space would be?
Well the first and most apparent of the benefits of natural lighting is that you don’t have to use electric lighting as much. When you consider that the Energy Information Association states that 13% of the United States electricity consumption it’s fair to assume 13% of your electric bill each month is used to illuminate your living space. While this won’t help you when the sun goes down, if you estimate that even a quarter of your lighting is during the day you could get a 3% reduction in your electric bill just for that. However not everything in your electric bill will be improved by adding more natural lighting. Since adding windows is the most common approach to increasing the natural lighting of a space, you can very easily increase your heating and cooling costs. Some modern instillations are less impactful, but unless you’re getting a brand new top of the line skylight with heat filters you can definitely expect heating and cooling costs to increase alongside the levels of natural lighting in your home or apartment. If you do decide to get a brand new top of the line skylight though, The Emergency Stabilization Act of 2008 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 offers you a 30% tax credit on instillation costs until 2021. As for pure retail value it estimated that real estate with bad lighting can lease for 20% less, or about 2-4 dollars per square foot, than real estate with sufficient natural lighting. Furthermore when asked in surveys, second and third time homeowners will often state that they are willing to pay up to 5,000 dollars more for properties that are built with natural lighting in mind.
Those are just the practical benefits of natural lighting though, there is a bevy of physical and mental health benefits to having increased natural lighting. Having a clear view of the outside world helps stabilize sleeping habits, as the light in the morning will help wake you, and bathing or showering in relative darkness helps prepare people for sleep. Increased exposure to sunlight leads to your body producing more vitamin D, which helps fight anxiety and depression. For those of us who work at home, having an office space can lead to increased energy and productivity, sadly productivity is really hard to translate into a hard number of how much extra money that would make you so you will have to decide for yourself if that is something that justifies disturbing your workspace.
Though natural light also benefits vision, and helps prevent the nearsightedness that the artificial light of computer and phones screens can cause. However by far the most interesting thing I’ve found researching natural light, is that it actually helps the body recover from surgery up to 8 or 9 percent faster, as a 1984 scientific study shows. Patients even were recorded to require less painkillers when they were placed in rooms with windows that let in light, so if you get injured a lot it might be a good idea to invest in some extra windows around the house just so you don’t have to spend as much time in recovery. Best of all the next time you go shopping for homes or apartments you’ll actually be able to more accurately assess how much you’re willing to pay for.
By Connor Sherman