TexasIsHot – Energy Efficiency

Lighting Tips

Aug 27 2009

Going Green by Installing a Skylight in Your Home

nc_02bc263f-8c35-4fed-a29b-0779682dccf6_kitchen-skylights-3-1While skylights are often seen as a luxury addition to the home, they can actually be a green home improvement. After all, a skylight is really just a window at heart, so all the advantages of installing energy-efficient windows apply. That includes improving your home’s looks, lighting, energy efficiency, and overall comfort. Here’s what you need to know from a green perspective if there’s a new skylight in your future.

Energy Efficiency and Skylights
There are two reasons that skylights are so popular in green remodeling circles. The first is that, like any window, the right skylight has the potential to help increase energy efficiency in your home (and reduce energy costs), especially when it comes eliminating heat transfer and making the most of passive solar heating. The other reason skylights are so heralded in green remodeling circles is that they maximize natural lighting, as well. Though they are not automatically an energy improvement; they must be placed strategically and be shaded in the summer to maximize energy savings. Here are some of Johnston’s thoughts on what you can do to make sure your new skylight is as green as they come from an energy-efficiency standpoint.

Orientation—One of your greenest decisions is orientation when installing a new skylight. A skylight with a southern exposure, for example, will provide your home with valuable passive solar heating in the winter months, reducing home heating costs. A skylight on west-facing roofs will add to your cooling costs all summer long.

  • Multiple Panes—Upgrading from a single pane to a double pane skylight can reduce heat loss at that skylight by as much as 15 percent. That alone can add up to savings of as much as $2,000 in energy savings over the life of the skylight.
  • Use only skylights with low e coatings—Low e coatings reduce heat loss in winter and reduce heat from entering your home during the summer. The right low e coating (it will differ from climate to climate) can make a huge difference when it comes to improving overall energy efficiency, and will generally pay for itself in a few short years.
  • Low Conductivity Frames—Aluminum and steel frames contribute to poor energy efficiency. Purchase wood, vinyl, or fiberglass window frames instead, and opt for insulated frames if they’re available.
  • Reduce the Need for Artificial Lighting—The more natural light you can let in by installing skylights in all their forms, the less you’ll have to rely on expensive artificial lighting to light your home. In fact, skylights can be especially effective at increasing natural lighting in hard-to-light interior areas of your home.

Skylights: Quality, Comfort, and Health
The benefits of green remodeling go beyond energy efficiency and energy savings.

  • Install Light Pipes and Solar Tubes—These non-traditional skylights are basically tubes that run from the ceiling of your home, through the attic, and up to the roof. The sole purpose of a solar tube is to funnel sunlight down into your home, especially to interior areas and rooms that get little or no natural sunlight, and spaces like bathrooms where privacy considerations are an issue. They provide natural day light without the heat loss and heat gain from most skylights.
  • Enjoy the Quiet—Skylights with higher levels of insulation (i.e.: multiple panes and gas fills) also insulate better against noise pollution.
  • Natural Lighting—Natural lighting is the single biggest attraction of installing skylights, with benefits that far exceed lower utility bills. Well-lit homes provide homeowners with healthier, more enjoyable, and more attractive living spaces.
  • Ventilation & Health—If you can, install operable skylights with screens. Poor indoor air quality is a major contributor to a wide array of health issues. One of the best ways to combat it is to provide as much natural ventilation in your home as possible.

The True Value of Going Green with Skylights
Going green with skylights will probably cost you a little more upfront than going with a traditional alternative, though the energy saving benefits alone means that most skylights pay for themselves in the long run. Nevertheless, homeowners must be aware of getting caught up in “the payback trap,” or investing in green solely to reduce energy costs. Green homes are also healthier, require less maintenance, and place a premium and comfort and quality. Add to that the environmental benefits, and the value of knowing that you’re investing in a better world for your kids and grandkids, and it’s easy to see that going green is far more valuable than any bottom line can reflect.

If you think green is the right color for your upcoming skylight installation, be sure to talk to your contractor about adopting a green building philosophy, find a contractor who specializes in green building and remodeling, or seek out the services of a green consulting firm that can provide the advice you need to help make your home as green as possible.

Source: www.servicemagic.com

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  1. keithAugust 31, 2009 at 7:19 amReply

    Since the subject is Texas is Hot, I would comment that the major benefit to skylights is their facilitating the Venturi Effect–the flow air caused when their is an angled surface (such as a sloping ceiling) and a low-level opening such as a window and a high end exit point–the skylight. Air will flow into your window, up the wall and ceiling and then out the skylight, causing a nice breeze even if the wind is not blowing forcefully outdoors. Keeps the house air fresh as well.
    I have many other suggestions to go green and save fuel and energy on my site if you would like to visit. http://www.how-you-can-save.com

  2. sandra742September 9, 2009 at 8:23 amReply

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

    • adminSeptember 9, 2009 at 11:05 amReplyAuthor

      Thank you. Glad you are finding it useful. Thanks for reading!

  3. Malcolm PlamondonJune 13, 2010 at 10:59 pmReply

    This was a Great write up, I will be sure to save this in my Reddit account. Have a good evening.

  4. John HamiltonMarch 25, 2011 at 12:52 pmReply

    Great write up! A skylight is definitely a great addition to a home, and it can look nice to boot. Thanks for sharing.

    • adminApril 1, 2011 at 3:49 pmReplyAuthor

      Glad you enjoyed it!

      -TexasIsHot Team

  5. adminApril 1, 2011 at 3:45 pmReplyAuthor

    Thanks for your comment and suggestion on how to make the piece better. We hope you continue to contribute your thoughts and let us know how we can improve upon our content.

    -TexasIsHot Team

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