Skylights have become a popular fixture in modern building design, due to their ability to effectively harness the power of sunlight. Benefits to installing skylights in your home include:
-Conservation of electricity, which would otherwise have been expended on electric lighting and heating. Skylights make it possible for natural sunlight to provide adequate illumination during the day and passive heating during winter.
-Increased productivity, due to the health and psychological benefits of sunlight
-Aesthetic appeal, both from the design of the skylights themselves and the increased presence of sunlight in the home.
Tips on Installing Skylights
There's a wide variety of skylights to choose from, with varying levels of effectiveness depending on the geographical position of your home, the climate and the season.
Here are a few of the important choices you'll need to make when picking a skylight and its manner of installation:
Size: The size of the skylight will affect how much illumination is able to enter your home. According to energy.gov, a good rule of thumb is that the skylight size should be less than 5% of the floor area in rooms with a lot of windows, and less than 15% of the floor area in rooms with few windows.
Shape: You'll have a choice between various shapes for your skylight, including rectangular, circular, oval, diamond, and triangular.
Composition: You'll usually have two options when it comes to picking the material that constitutes your skylights:
-Plastic glazing: cheaper and less likely to break, but it may discolor over time, and its ability to keep out harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays is limited.
-Glass glazing: More durable and aesthetically pleasing than plastic, and it won't discolor. The glass glazing used for skylights is designed so as to prevent the scattering of sharp fragments in the case of breakage.
Remember, it's not just the amount of illumination a skylight provides that determines its effectiveness; heat gain is an issue as well, and the composition of the skylight will be an important factor in this.
-Double pane skylights, as opposed to single pane, reduce heat loss by about 15%, which can add up to about $2000 in energy savings according to homeadvisor.com.
-Use of low-emissivity (low-E) coatings can reduce heat loss in winter and minimize heat gain during the summer. Low-e coatings are thin layers of metal spread across the skylight's panes that helps to reduce the amount of non-solar heat that gets through.
Orientation: Think carefully about the orientation of the skylight, and whether it suits the location and design of your home. The direction your skylight faces will determine the time of day at which it will be most effective.
-Skylights facing east will be more effective at providing passive heating and light during the morning.
-Skylights facing west will be more effective in the afternoon
-Skylights facing south will be most effective during the winter, but may be TOO effective during the summer.
-Skylights facing north provide a consistent level of lighting throughout the year, with less heat gain.
Location: Kitchens and bathrooms are considered the most ideal locations for a skylight. There's also the option of installing tubes that can funnel sunlight from the skylight to hard-to-reach places in the home.
Installation: Ideal skylight installation will ensure no water leaks, and provide adequate ventilation as well as illumination.
Hot air rises and so skylights, being installed in the ceiling, can play a role in releasing it and improving overall air quality in a room. Some can be opened manually or by remote control, while others will come equipped with vents.
It's clear there are a lot of options when it comes to installing skylights, but some careful planning and good advisement can ensure you get the maximum benefit from the increased presence of natural sunlight in your home.