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Energy Efficient Skylights

Energy Efficient Skylights: How Your Skylights Can Reduce Energy Costs

Energy efficient skylights are more than just a modern luxury; they’re a necessity in today’s energy conscious world. As homeowners, we’re increasingly focused on reducing our energy bills and making sustainable choices. Skylights, often overlooked, have evolved from mere roof windows to sophisticated features that can significantly improve a home’s energy efficiency. This article aims to answer key consumer questions about these advanced skylights, detailing their features and benefits in reducing energy costs. Skylights can do more than just add natural light to your home.

The Rise of Energy Efficient Skylights

Skylights have come a long way since their early days as simple roof windows. Today, they are designed with energy saving in mind, meeting strict guidelines set by authoritative bodies like the Department of Energy and the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). The  growing sustainable living movement has fueled this evolution, making energy-efficient skylights a popular choice among homeowners.

One key milestone in this journey is the introduction of the ENERGY STAR® label. This label, developed by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), serves as a quick and reliable way for consumers to identify energy-efficient products, including skylights. Most skylights that carry this label have undergone rigorous testing for heat loss, solar heat gain, and light transmittance. As a result, they meet or exceed energy performance ratings, making them an excellent choice for those looking to enhance their home’s energy efficiency.

Are There Energy Efficient Skylights?

The answer is a resounding yes! Energy-efficient skylights are not just a concept; they’re a reality that many homeowners are embracing. These skylights are designed with various features to improve energy performance, such as double and triple glazing, special coatings, and advanced materials.

The Department of Energy and the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) play crucial roles in certifying these skylights. Products that meet their stringent guidelines receive an ENERGY STAR label, assuring homeowners of their quality and efficiency. For instance, these skylights are tested for heat loss and solar heat gain, among other factors, to ensure they meet the energy performance ratings set by these organizations.

What sets these skylights apart are their advanced features. They often use various glazing technologies, including heat-absorbing tints and low-emissivity coatings, to control heat flow and light transmittance. Some even incorporate translucent insulation material between several glazing layers to further enhance their energy performance.

Energy Star Rated Skylights Chart

How Skylights Help Reduce Energy Costs

Skylights do more than just brighten up a room; they can be a key component in your home’s energy efficiency strategy. By maximizing the use of natural light, skylights reduce the need for artificial lighting, thereby lowering energy bills. But the benefits don’t stop there.

Solar heat gain is another advantage of installing skylights. During the winter months, energy efficitent products can capture passive solar heat, keeping your home warm and reducing heating costs. However, it’s essential to control this solar heat gain during the summer months to avoid unwanted additional heat. Many energy-efficient skylights come with features that help regulate this, such as special coatings and glazing.

Ventilation is another factor that skylights can influence. Ventilating skylights can provide natural airflow, reducing the need for air conditioning and further contributing to energy savings. This makes skylights a multifaceted tool in enhancing your home’s energy efficiency, offering benefits that go beyond mere aesthetics.

How Can I Make My Skylight More Energy-Efficient?

If you already have a skylight installed, you might be wondering how to make it more energy-efficient. The good news is, there are several ways to enhance your skylight’s energy performance. First and foremost, consider adding a special coating or glazing. These treatments can significantly reduce heat loss and control solar heat gain, making your home more comfortable year-round.

Another effective method is to install shades or blinds. These can be particularly useful in controlling the amount of light and heat entering your home, especially during the summer months. Some shades are even designed to improve your skylight’s Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), helping you keep heat inside during winter and block out excess heat during summer.

Properly Installing a Skylight

Proper installation is crucial for maximizing the benefits of your skylight. Always opt for a certified installer who understands the importance of sealing and insulating the skylight to prevent heat loss and ensure optimal performance. Some skylights even come with features like double and triple glazing layers, which can further reduce heat flow and improve your home’s energy efficiency.

Lastly, consider the position of your skylight. South-facing skylights can capture more passive solar heat during winter but may require additional shading solutions to control heat during the summer months. On the other hand, north-facing skylights provide more consistent, less direct light, making them a good option for reducing unwanted additional heat in summer.

Velux Energy-Efficient Skylights

What Are the Best Skylights to Keep Heat Out?

When it comes to keeping heat out, not all skylights are created equal. Different types offer varying levels of energy performance, and choosing the right one can make a significant difference in your home’s climate. Here are some types to consider:

  1. Tubular Skylights: These are excellent for minimizing heat gain. Their compact design and reflective tubes transmit natural light without the solar heat in the summer, making them ideal for smaller rooms.
  2. Flat Skylights: These are often made with double or triple glazing and special coatings to reduce heat gain. They are a popular choice for larger rooms where more light is desired.
  3. Ventilating Skylights: These skylights can be opened to provide ventilation, helping to reduce heat build-up during the summer months. They are particularly useful in kitchens and bathrooms where moisture can be an issue.
  4. Energy Star Certified Skylights: Always look for the ENERGY STAR label when choosing a new skylight. Energy Star products meet strict energy performance ratings and are certified by the National Fenestration Rating Council.

Choosing a Skylight

When selecting a skylight, also pay attention to its Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) and the energy performance ratings of skylights. A lower SHGC means the skylight allows less solar heat, which is beneficial in hot climates. Conversely, a higher SHGC can be advantageous in colder climates where passive solar heat is desired.

Remember, the size of the skylight matters too. Larger skylights can result in unwanted additional heat in summer and loss of heat from the inside during winter. Therefore, it’s essential to balance skylight size with your room’s floor area and your home’s overall energy needs.

How Can We Reduce Heat Loss Through Skylights?

Reducing heat loss through skylights is a top priority for homeowners, especially those living in colder climates. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by choosing skylights with high energy performance ratings. ENERGY STAR, for instance, rates skylights differently for various climate zones. In Northern climates, skylights with a lower U-Factor and higher Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) are recommended to maximize heat energy during winter.

Glazing

Double and triple glazing are also excellent options for reducing heat loss. These skylights have multiple layers of glass separated by air or gas, providing better insulation and keeping your home warm in the winter. Some even use translucent insulation material between several glazing layers for added efficiency.

Sealing

Sealing and insulating your skylight are equally important. A poorly sealed skylight can result in heat loss, negating any benefits of an energy-efficient design. Always ensure that your installer uses quality sealing materials and insulates the skylight adequately to prevent heat flow.

Venting

Ventilating skylights can also help control your home’s climate. By allowing hot air to escape, they reduce the need for artificial cooling, thereby saving energy. However, make sure these are properly sealed when closed to prevent heat loss.

Lastly, consider using shades or blinds specifically designed for skylights. These can be closed to keep heat inside during cold winter nights and opened to provide ventilation and reduce heat during the summer months.

Skylights Add to Home Value

Financial Benefits and Incentives

Investing in energy efficient skylights is not just good for the planet; it’s also beneficial for your wallet. One of the immediate advantages is the reduction in energy bills. By optimizing natural light and controlling heat flow, these skylights lessen the need for artificial lighting and heating and cooling systems.

But the financial benefits don’t end there. Many states offer tax credits for homeowners who install energy efficient products, including skylights. These incentives can offset the initial costs of purchasing and installing a new skylight, making it a more affordable option in the long run.

Resale Value

It’s also worth noting that energy efficient skylights add to your home’s resale value. Today’s buyers are increasingly looking for sustainable features, and a home that uses ENERGY STAR certified skylights is more appealing. These skylights are not only highly efficient but also come with energy performance ratings, providing potential buyers with the assurance they need.

Before making a purchase, also consider the long term savings. While better skylight performance may have a higher upfront cost, it results in significant savings over time by reducing heating and cooling costs. Therefore, they are a smart investment for any homeowner looking to improve their home energy efficiency and save money.

Conclusion

Skylights have evolved from simple roof windows to sophisticated, energy-efficient features that can significantly impact your home’s energy efficiency and overall climate. Whether you’re installing a new skylight or upgrading an existing one, it’s crucial to consider its energy performance ratings, glazing technologies, and the potential for tax credits. With the right choices, you can not only enhance the amount of natural light in your home but also make a meaningful contribution to reducing heating and cooling costs.

In summary, energy-efficient skylights are a win-win solution. They offer aesthetic appeal, improve your home’s energy performance, and can even result in financial benefits in the form of reduced energy bills and tax incentives. So, the next time you think about home improvements, don’t overlook the power of a well-chosen skylight.

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