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How Skylights Boost Household Efficiency

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for The House Designers®

If you want to build a greener home, be sure to explore skylight options! Not only can they cut your electricity usage by reducing the need for artificial light, but they can also save energy by helping with climate control. Today’s skylights are a world away from the first versions that earned a bad reputation for leaking—they offer better glass and multiple layers of protection to maintain a tight building envelope. Here’s why skylights should be included as part of any energy-efficient home.

VELUX Sun Tunnel Skylights

What a difference Sun Tunnel Skylights can make! They look like recessed lighting, but these are actually compact skylights that capture sunlight from the roof and bring it inside through a highly reflective tunnel. They come in rigid and flexible types to adapt to different routes through the attic, too.

Natural Lighting

From their inception, the appeal of skylights has always been how they effectively brighten the interior. The sun is overhead most of the day, so it only makes sense that light from the roof fills space better than light coming in through the walls. You see the same thing with artificial lighting—we wouldn’t be without ceiling-mounted fixtures these days! If you want to take advantage of free natural light, look at what you can do with your ceiling.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, lighting accounts for about 5% of the average household’s energy consumption. That might not seem like much, but every bit counts when it comes to reducing our environmental impact on a global scale. And any electricity used to light a home during the day is a waste when you have access to sunlight! You can also look forward to some monetary savings, though the amount depends on where you live since the price of electricity varies widely across the country.

If you don’t think your home was made for skylights, think again. There are a variety of types to suit different conditions. You can learn more about the possibilities in our articles Sunny Lighting Solutions for Your Home and Skylights for Every Roof Pitch & Ceiling. Of course, you can also always reach out to a professional who can make suggestions for whatever you have to work with!

VELUX Solar Powered "Fresh Air" Skylights

Solar Powered “Fresh Air” Skylights don’t require any wiring because they each have a built-in solar panel and battery. They work with remote control and through an app, or you can let the VELUX ACTIVE with NETATMO system monitor your indoor conditions and open and close the skylights and blinds as needed.

Passive Climate Control

Most people don’t air out their homes anymore. We rely on HVAC systems to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the seasons, but that allows environmental pollutants to build up inside and also comes with a hefty cost in terms of utilities and your carbon footprint. As with anything else, reducing your energy consumption through passive means is a smart move for the planet and your wallet. It’s probably not something that comes to mind first when you consider skylights, but they can absolutely contribute to a healthier and more efficient home if you opt for operable—as opposed to fixed—models.

Skylights are perfectly placed to vent warm, stale air because heat rises. Just open a path and it’ll clear itself out! Opening skylights at the right times will reduce your need for air conditioning in this way because it won’t be working against the heat trapped inside. And regardless of the season, skylights with shades can help make your house more comfortable. Closing the shades when the sun is at its harshest will block heat from coming in, but you can take advantage of it in the winter by leaving them open. If you don’t want to keep track of conditions to optimize your skylight usage, don’t worry—you can leave it to a smart system. For more on that, check out How Automated Skylights Improve Your Home. Space heating and cooling account for just over half of the average home’s energy consumption, so putting a dent in that will make a huge difference. And you don’t even have to pay to power the skylights if you choose solar-powered ones!

VELUX Skylight Installation

A skylight should always be weathertight to protect the integrity of your roof and to perform efficiently. VELUX® offers a No Leak Promise on their skylights, so you can purchase with confidence! Three layers of protection will keep the rain out, and it’s backed by a 10-year product and installation warranty.

Efficient Design

For a skylight to be worth the benefits it offers, it has to protect against problems that would work against them. In the past, leaky skylights turned off homeowners, and understandably so; not only was moisture intrusion a problem, but air leakage could cause the HVAC system to run more than necessary. Today’s skylights are made better and offer multiple layers of protection during installation, so they can maintain a tight, energy-efficient envelope.

Be sure to look at the whole picture. VELUX® has addressed every skylight concern. They have low-E glass, which allows light in while reflecting heat out in the summer, and reflects indoor heat back inside in the winter. That really helps with thermal insulation! Most water leaks come from around the skylight—where it’s placed in the roof—so you want a good waterproof seal around the perimeter. VELUX® skylights include three layers of protection—a deck seal or gasket, adhesive underlayment, and flashing—which all contribute to worry-free light from above. And of course, you need a competent installer to fit and apply everything correctly; failure of a skylight due to improper installation is a completely avoidable problem. Invest in a contractor who knows what they’re doing!

For skylights of all types that will help you build a more efficient home, check out VELUX®. They offer solutions for different roofs, ceilings, and even interior rooms—there’s no reason to think skylights won’t work for your house! Find a local installer who can help you take advantage of all that they offer!