One of the best ways to increase the value of your home is to increase the amount of light in your basement. Anyone who enters a poorly lit basement is easily unimpressed, not to mention they can risk injury due to bumping into things or tripping. With plentiful light, the same basement becomes friendly and safe. Striking the perfect combination of artificial and natural lighting varies depending on the layout of your basement, what is already in place, your pocketbook, and the preferences of you and your family.
Advantages of Natural Light
First off, let’s talk about the designing for natural light.
#1: Cut Down on Power Bills
Once you provide a way for natural light to enter the basement, there is less of a need for artificial light, which means your electric bill will be noticeably cut. Even at night, there may be enough for you to see your way and find a light switch. Sunlight shining through well-placed basement windows and basement window wells can brighten a room or an entire basement and greatly reduce costs of electricity.
#2: Using Windows for Light Can Increase Ventilation and Ensure Safety
Small windows placed high on basement walls sometimes help provide light and ventilation. The addition of egress windows and other basement window wells extends the space between the window and the ground outside, thereby creating more space for light to come through. Egress window wells also give you, your family,and guests a safe way to exit the basement in case of emergency.
***International Code Council requirements for residences state that there must be an egress window system in every basement bedroom. If there are no bedrooms, a basement used for anything except storage must have at least one method of escape that goes directly to the exterior of the home. If your basement is underground and has neither an egress window well and window nor an exterior door and bulkhead, make the installation of a properly sized egress window system top priority!
Because egress windows and some other types of windows open easily, they give you the added advantage of being able to increase air circulation in your basement. Sunlight and air greatly reduce moisture buildup to prevent mold and mildew from getting a toehold. Fresh air and sunlight also add a feeling of well-being for everyone who uses the basement’s interior.
Advantages to Artificial Light
#1 Artificial light holds up in all weather conditions
Artificial light outshines natural light on cloudy days and dark nights. Because good lighting is essential for stairways and certain other areas, artificial light is necessary in all basements.
#2 Artificial lighting can be used to create special effects or moods
In selecting artificial lighting, consider the needs and wants of those who use the basement as well as the basement’s structure and interior design. Do you have special artwork or other features that you want to highlight? Are there locations where low light conditions add atmosphere, such as a theater room? Would you like to make low ceilings seem higher? Do members of your family need more light in an area where they want to read, study or work? A well-lit basement planned for the needs and preferences of those who live there provides a great deal of satisfaction every time it is used.
More to Come
The next two articles in this series will explore artificial lighting in more depth so that you and your family can consider options. Next week’s blog will feature a comparison between ceiling and wall lights. The final article will cover various types of lamps and their uses. Armed with this information, you will be better able to make lighting choices that are “just right” for you and your family.