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Autumn leaves on a window in the rain

After garden season, fall is when I continue my ‘spring cleaning’. Over the last couple of weeks, I checked off everything off my “to-do” bulletin board to create a fresh slate.

I also keep an ongoing List-Of-Things-To-Do in a 6”x9” notebook, which doubles as a catch-all for random ideas that come into my head during the day. I call it ‘My Memory’, and it got cleaned out last week. Important information was put on a fresh page, and the old was burned in the wood stove.

Here’s a random thought I couldn’t burn:

Think of daylight as a building material.

I have no idea where this came from or when I wrote it, but as I looked around the sun-drenched room, I gained a new perspective on windows.

Direct and indirect light

I have always added windows for passive solar gain. Direct sun can comfortably heat a room or home during the day, cutting heating bills. Thermal mass will collect the heat and release it at night to further reduce your reliance on a fossil fuel heat source.

Years ago, one of my co-workers in an office insisted on keeping the blinds drawn and the lights on. In winter, the south facing windows not only warmed us, but also provided plenty of light to work by. They were large enough for good indirect light in summer when the sun was high in the sky. I struggled with trying to see with just a desk lamp and overhead light, never mind my aversion to lights on during the day!

So windows provide enough warmth and light to cut heating and electricity bills. And just think! The sun is cheerful!

Visuals

As if free energy weren’t enough, windows also offer a visual smorgasbord. They bring nature into your house. The seasons come and go right before your eyes. The sun makes its annual trek across the sky – north in summer, south in winter. The light it shines casts interesting shadows of flowers, dried grasses, fences, birds in flight, and patio furniture.

Cloud formations build up and dump rain or snow. The wind coerces the wind chimes into a beautiful dance and song. Icicles and all their reflections hang off the roof.

These are all things I see through my windows throughout the year. I have learned a lot about the natural world by watching it out my windows!natural light window red curtains

Windows provide an endless Oscar winning movie, no streaming needed. Your immediate surroundings change constantly. Take advantage of that when you build or remodel!

Don’t install windows – install nature

See those spaces on your walls as more than a place to look while you do your dishes, or something to open for fresh air. Make your windows an integrated part of your overall home design. Think sun, warmth, indirect light, a great nature movie, cutting bills, and saving resources.

Don’t install windows. Install nature, education, sunshine, daylight and a lower carbon footprint!

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.