A common misconception is that skylights can hurt your home’s energy efficiency by trapping heat during the summer or letting in more cold air during the winter. The truth is, if properly installed, skylights can help you save serious money on energy bills, including heating, cooling, and lighting.
Are Skylights Energy Efficient?
In addition to improving the appearance and quality of light in your home, skylights are energy efficient year-round. They can help to light and heat your home during the colder months, as well as keep it cool during the warm days of the year. In order to reap these benefits, you must choose your windows carefully and install them properly.
Complaints with skylights usually arise from improper installation or window selection. If you choose the wrong type of window for the area you’re installing it in, you may not be happy with the results. For example, choosing a window with a high solar heat gain will keep you warm in the winter, but could trap in heat during the summer. Thoughtfully placing skylights on your home will help you avoid this problem and keep you comfortable year-round.
Also, if the window is not installed properly, it might have air or water leakage that could cause damage and discomfort. This issue could be resolved with expert help. If you aren’t sure you can do it yourself, it’s always better to work with professionals. They can help you plan which skylights to choose and where to place them, as well as install them perfectly to provide you with a beautiful and valuable energy-saving solution.
How are Skylights Energy Efficient?
If chosen and installed properly, skylights can be an excellent and efficient addition to your home. Here’s how it works:
Energy Efficient Skylights
The specific skylights you choose matter. If your skylights are energy efficient, they will have a low U factor. The U factor is how window performance is measured in terms of transmitting non-solar heat energy. A lower U factor means the window is more energy efficient. You can find your window’s U factor in the energy efficiency rating.
You’ll also want to look at the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) which will tell you how it transmits solar energy and converts it to heat. If you want your window to transfer more heat into your home, during the winter, for example, you’ll choose a window with a high SHGC rating. Conversely, if you want a window with a better shading ability, you’ll opt for a lower SHGC. Whatever skylight you choose should have minimal air leakage and be able to transmit the right amount of visible light for your space.
Proper Skylight Installation
The skylight installation process can determine if your skylights are energy efficient or detracting from your home’s energy savings. It involves careful planning and many layers of sealing to create a moisture barrier to make the skylight as effective as possible.
After locating the ideal location for your new skylight, the installer will create and frame the opening. If the ceiling is not sloped with the roof, they can install a light shaft that will pass through an attic space to the roof. Then, they will place an underlayment which goes beneath the shingles to make sure water moves away from the window properly.
Depending on the skylight type and brand, the installer will place about three phases of flashing, one around the bottom, step flashing around the sides, and solid flashing over the top, attached to the skylight to create a water-tight seal. Different types of skylights will have different mounts and are suitable for various types of roofs. Your skylight supplier will be able to help determine which type is right for your home.
Choosing the Right Skylight
Energy efficient skylights come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Tubular skylights are particularly efficient, but they’re not as common as traditional flat skylights.
Tubular vs. Flat Skylights
Tubular skylights have a domed window at the top to capture light from various angles throughout the day. They are especially efficient because they capture maximum sunlight with minimal heat gain or loss, but they don’t have the usual look. Flat skylights offer the traditional experience of being able to see the open sky above, and can still be very energy efficient. Adjusting these characteristics will maximize the energy efficient abilities of flat skylights:
Flat skylights should be about five percent of the size of the floor area of the room they’re located in, especially if the room has other windows. This way they will maximize light transmittance without creating an overwhelming glare.
Location of Skylight
In warm climates, skylights should be placed on north-facing roof slopes, while in cold climates, south-facing slopes will capture the most possible sunlight. In areas that experience both warm and cold temperatures, consider locating skylights on east-facing slopes. Here, the morning sun will provide some heat and the skylight will be shaded from the most intense afternoon rays. Putting a skylight under the shade of deciduous trees will also help limit summer heat gain.
Your skylight should be tilted to the angle of your latitude plus ten degrees. This enables the skylight to capture the most sunlight and heat in the cooler months and deflect the high summer sun.
Skylight Material & Ventilation
Energy efficient skylights should be double-pane, with a low U-factor. You might consider coatings on the window to limit heat gain, but remember that heat gain can be energy-saving during the winter.
Adding ventilation capabilities to your skylight can improve indoor air quality and reduce the possibility of mold. Ventilating skylights are energy efficient in kitchens and bathrooms. Some skylights have built-in sensors that close when they detect rain or moisture on the outside.
Professional Skylight Installation
Once you’ve chosen skylights that are energy efficient, it’s important to install them correctly to capitalize on their benefits. The best way to do this is to work with professional installers. Not only can you rely on them to help you choose the best skylights that are energy efficient for your home, but they will make sure they are water-tight and working perfectly for you.
Whether you’re worried about how skylights affect your energy efficiency, or you’re ready to get a few skylights installed, talk to the Werner Roofing team. We proudly install Velux Skylights, and we’d be happy to help you decide whether skylights are the right option for your home or not. Reach out to us online to get started.