It is finally here, the post everyone has been waiting for. I am going to talk about window sizes – In the UK. I know us, in the mental health community have been waiting to read about this for years, especially those of you outside of the UK.
Well the wait is over.
Windows serve us greatly and they are often taken for granted. They bring in sunlight – or a deep glow orange street lamp, if you live in my childhood home. But sunlight brings with it a vitamin. Vitamin D*. We need this for many things. And our bodies love it, craves it in fact. Other things which are affected by sunlight are the chemicals Melatonin and Serotonin, these things are actually affected purely through the Sun’s impact on the eyes. All of these things are linked with depression.
Sunlight and depression actually have a very close relationship.
It is a love hate relationship but they just can’t move on from each other. It would be better for everyone around them if they weren’t together, but they are. So we have to adjust accordingly. And how do we adjust I hear you say? Well the maths on this one is not particularly difficult.
Bigger windows = Less depression
Now, this is an interesting fact* for two reasons. Firstly because the average window size in the UK has been dropping consistently over time. The second interesting thing is that bigger windows cost more. About £500 per new house built, to be precise. Or £60m a year – to be preciser*.
Now I am not suggesting the higher cost of bigger windows has anything to do with the reduction in window sizes over the years*, but it does seem like a bad deal to me.
How wonderful! Those housing developers get to save that, pop it on their balance sheet, the CEO is having a wonderful day. He may even go home and have a cigar by his nice big window. And this was all signed off in 2014 by the then Prime Minister to ‘cut red tape’.
So we as a country, through our then prime minister saved the housing companies £60m. But I have said many times on this blog that I am not good at maths, and I am not. But I am not as bad as the UK Government, in this instance. The cost of depression in the UK is somewhere between £7.5 – £11 billion per year. Now windows are not the only contributing factor to depression. So let’s say half, or a third or even 10% of the lowest figure of £7.5 billion could be saved by having bigger windows. That is £750m.
So let’s review those options again. The options laid out to the Government at that time were:
1. Save a collection of companies £60m a year.
2. Prevent thousands of people getting depression, plus save hundreds of millions of pounds at the same time.
No, you’re right. I am being harsh on the Government here. It was a tough decision.
Although the figures should be updated to account for the people who will now get depressed from understanding that the Government cares more about the balance sheet of a few companies than the health of its populous.
See, people talk about systems being corrupt and capitalism this and socialism that. But fundamentally if you base your country around economy as opposed to society, you get decisions like this. Decisions should always be made, in my view, for the benefit of society – not the economy. So people in the UK are living in smaller and smaller houses with smaller and smaller windows to benefit an economy – because money is better than you.
Interestingly though, one of the only regulations left on window sizes in the UK is based on ‘means of escape‘- i.e. they must be big enough for people to escape. However, these measurements are based on the typical BMI for a healthy adult. Had the Government looked at the facts though, they would of realised that people who are exposed to less sunlight are also much heavier, meaning that they are now depressed, fat and cannot escape their dark miserable habitat.
Still, £60m though.
*Admittedly, it is less than direct exposure.
*Not a real word