House hunting? Check the WINDOW size! Maximising the amount of natural light entering your home boosts happiness, study finds

  • 750 participants were shown photos of rooms with different natural lighting 
  • They were asked to rate how happy or sad the rooms made them feel
  • Rooms with bigger windows and stucco or wooden walls were rated as happiest 

Whether it’s the amount of storage space or the number of power points, there are many things people look for when house hunting.

But a new study suggests that prospective buyers should focus on another key feature – the size of the windows.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield have revealed how maximising the amount of natural light entering your home can boost happiness.

Dr Pablo Navarrete-Hernandez, who led the study, said: ‘Given that we live, work and spend more time than ever at home, urban planners and property developers should consider improvements to natural lighting conditions in the home through factors like window placement and size.’

Whether it’s the amount of storage space or the number of power points, there are many things people look for when house hunting. But a new study suggests that prospective buyers should focus on another key feature – the size of the windows (stock image)

The researchers presented 750 participants with 25 randomly assigned 3D photo simulations of living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms, with different natural lighting designs

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder? 

Commonly known as SAD, the disoder is a depression that’s linked to the seasons, and is most common in winter.  

Howver, a few people will experience it more intensely in summer and feel better in winter.  

 As well as a persistent low mood and feelings of tiredness, despair and guilty, people may find themselves craving carbohydrates and gaining weight.

As well as talking therapies and anti-depressants, some peopl may benefit from light therapy with a  special lamp used to simulate exposure to sunlight.

Source: NHS 

While previous studies have shown a link between indoor environments and emotional wellbeing, until now, little has been known about the specific aspects of a home that affect our emotions.

In their new study, the team set out to understand whether natural lighting in the home affects the inhabitants’ happiness and sadness.

The researchers presented 750 participants with 25 randomly assigned 3D photo simulations of living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms, with different natural lighting designs.

This included north-facing windows, south-facing windows, and windows of different size and number.

The participants were asked to rate how happy or sad they felt looking at each room.

The results revealed that natural lighting design had a significant impact on emotional wellbeing and perceived happiness.

Windows covering more than 40 per cent of a wall produced the most happiness of all the 25 scenarios included in the study.

Meanwhile, if you’re hoping to opt for a trendy exposed brick finish, the findings may put you off.

‘Regarding the reflection and absorption of daylight in the house, we found that stucco and wood wall-finish surfaces were beneficial to perceived happiness, while brick surfaces were not,’ the team wrote.

While the researchers did not look at the reason behind the findings, previous research has shown how exposure to light can boost levels of serotonin – the ‘happy hormone’. 

In fact, the NHS even recommends light therapy for people experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD). 

‘It’s thought the light may improve SAD by encouraging your brain to reduce the production of melatonin (a hormone that makes you sleepy) and increase the production of serotonin (a hormone that affects your mood),’ it explains on its website. 

The researchers hope the findings will encourage prospective buyers to consider window size.

If you’re hoping to opt for a trendy exposed brick finish, the findings may put you off. ‘Regarding the reflection and absorption of daylight in the house, we found that stucco and wood wall-finish surfaces were beneficial to perceived happiness, while brick surfaces were not,’ the team wrote

Javiera Morales-Bravo from the University of Chile, an author of the study, said: ‘When looking for a new place to live, people want a home that maximises the amount of natural light entering their property, as this increases their families’ and their own emotional wellbeing.’

They also suggest that building planners should opt for larger windows when planning new homes.

‘Preserving, and hopefully improving, natural light conditions in housing should be a fundamental concern of built environment planning, with the aim of improving people’s emotional subjective wellbeing in a world where we spend more time at home than ever before,’ the team concluded.  

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