Clerestory windows make for stunning architectural detail, but how can they lower your energy bill? Arranged in rows, clerestory windows (pronounced “clear-story”) mimic their name, creating an entire level of light. Usually installed higher than surrounding roofs, clerestory windows are located well above eye level and won’t compromise your privacy like standard windows can.
Often used for daylighting purposes, clerestory windows help reduce or eliminate the need to use electrical lighting during the day. Though they are typically fixed, clerestory windows can be made operable, providing a means of cross-ventilation for the home. Clerestory windows increase the amount of natural sunlight in the home, and they can also be installed in a thoughtful manner depending on the level of heat gain desired.
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For instance, to increase natural lighting without increasing direct heat gain that can potentially overheat the home, clerestory windows can be shaded by awnings or roof overhangs. They can also be installed on the north side of the home, where they won’t be exposed to the highest level of direct sun. On the other hand, to increase heat gain in the home, clerestory windows can be installed on the south side, where solar windows are placed. Here, include a low-emissivity coating to reduce heat loss. In the winter, the south-facing clerestory windows invite heat in from the sun. In the summer, trees and window shades can help minimize excessive heat gain.
Clearly, clerestory windows are a critical passive solar element. They are also used in numerous forms of architecture a popular feature in churches, large buildings, and even factories. Because they rise above adjoining roofs, clerestory windows can be used to light an interior room that wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to windows. Clerestory windows can also be a creative way to join two distinct roof sections.
To help direct the path of light made available by clerestory windows, use light colored surfaces on your interior walls. The walls can help reflect indirect light and take your even daylight farther.