Highlight windows are wide, short windows positioned high on the wall of a room and offer many benefits to the homeowner. They are also known as clerestory (clear story) windows and are positioned at the top of a wall above eye level.
Historically, highlight or clerestory windows were used in the upper level of a Roman basilica or a Gothic church. Often they were tall and curved at the top and made of stained glass – very different from modern windows! They are used extensively in commercial buildings such as gyms and sports arenas.
Highlight windows give air flow, privacy, security, passive heating and more furnishing options for new home builders. They give the impression that the ceiling is “floating”, especially if they wrap around corners. Opening highlight windows combined with lower level opening windows encourage natural air flow. Hot air rises in a room and it can escape through windows positioned near the ceiling, encouraging cool air to be drawn in through the lower windows. This “thermal chimney” effect is especially beneficial on still days when there is no breeze to generate cross-flow ventilation.
Highlight windows offer diffused light with little glare, as they are tucked up under the eaves. This prevents UV light fading floor coverings and furniture. They also give homeowners privacy from neighbours and passersby on the street.
Security is another big plus with highlight windows. It would be a brave and agile burglar who could clamber up to a high window, squeeze through, and then face a big drop on the other side.
Highlight windows can be used in a passive solar strategy. The window is positioned where the sun hits an interior brick or stone wall, which passively absorbs the heat, and then dissipates the heat after dark, in a similar fashion to the traditional night store heaters. Windows on the south side of a house work best, as the sun is lower in the sky in winter.
Large windows or bifold doors overlooking a view are a popular feature in living areas, but incorporating other windows in the same room can make furniture placement difficult. Highlight windows eliminate this problem allowing a supersize television, large corner lounge suite or significant artwork on other walls.
They work very well in smaller rooms in the house, like bathrooms and kitchens. For a bathroom, a highlight window offers privacy as well as more room for showers and storage. Eliminating the need for an eye-level window in a kitchen reduces cleaning and allows for more cupboards as well as eye-level appliances.
Double glazing or window tinting of highlight windows is important to reduce winter heat loss and sun glare.
Opening highlight windows can be power controlled or opened manually using a ring handle and long rod.