2006-09-28 / News

Choose energy efficiency for your home's lighting

By Andrew McGlothlen

When building or remodeling your home, one thing you are likely to consider is your lighting options. Whether you are looking for an energy-saving light source, something a bit more natural than fluorescence or a room with a better view, skylights may be the solution. Available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, skylights can meet a number of demands from consumers.

You may be asking, "Why should I put a hole in my roof?" Well, there are several benefits. For one, natural sunlight has been proven to provide Vitamin D and help fight depression. On top of that, well-placed skylights can help cut down on your heating and cooling costs throughout the year. Skylights can also cut down on your electrical bills by providing you with light courtesy of Mother Nature. Finally, skylights can provide a more natural feel within your home by providing another view of the outside.

Now that we've established a few good reasons to put a hole in your roof, what are the risks? Well, for one, you've got a big hole in your roof. If your skylight is poorly installed or poorly manufactured, you could have leaks. If your skylight is not durable, you could have to replace it after a few years for something sturdier.

Also, depending on your placement of the skylight, you may not maximize your light and could actually lose money on your heating and cooling costs rather than save it.

It is important to consult a professional when thinking about placement of your new skylights. While installation may be a potential do-it-yourself project, it is always best to get a professional opinion. Once you have discussed optimal placements of your skylights, you will probably have learned a few things. For one,

bigger is not necessarily better. It is often more advantageous both for lighting and for climate control to have several smaller skylights than one huge one. This allows for regular lighting throughout the home and provides less potential for problems on your rooftop.

One solution that has been catching on lately is tubular skylights. These skylights are usually less than two feet in diameter and utilize a system of reflection within

a tube to maximize light input. They usually diffuse the light when it comes into your home to help spread it around. While these are smaller, easier to install, and less risky in terms of energy, they do not provide the traditional view of a skylight that you may desire. When considering tubular skylights, keep in mind that they will meet your needs for energy efficiency and natural lighting, but they may not give you the planetarium view that you want.

If you want energy efficiency, smaller holes in your roof and natural lighting, tubular skylights may be the option for you. If you want to be more "open" with your skylight options and aim for something with a view, you may opt for traditional skylights. Either way, if you install skylights properly, you will get the benefit on both your electric bill and your bill of health.

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