Skylights – Natural Light, Part I

by Rachel Laurendeau on April 28, 2012

Most people would probably agree that increasing natural light in a room makes it feel more cheerful, airy and energized. In Northern climates, it’s especially important to make the most of the daylight hours during the short winter days by bringing in as much natural light as possible.

In this first part of our Natural Light series, we’re talking about skylights and what to look for when you are choosing one. Not only to skylights allow you to bring in light into spaces that may otherwise be windowless and dreary, they also add architectural interest and most of today’s skylights are operable so you can open them up to enjoy the fresh air.

Types of Skylights
Fixed skylights do not open; they are intended to allow light but not air into the house. Most older skylights are non-venting but they are still commonly installed in rooms where there is no need for venting.

Venting skylights are meant to bring in natural light and air. They either open with a manual crank or a remote control. Some even have automatic sensors which tracks inside and outside temperature and some will even automatically close if it starts to rain. Many people choose to replace their fixed skylights with venting ones.

Tubular skylights are small circular units with a clear acrylic dome on the roof and a tube made of highly reflective aluminum or steel which runs through the attic ending in a dome or flat fixture on the ceiling. This is the most economical skylight to have installed and is great for small spaces like walk-in closets, powder rooms or hallways. As a rule, tubular skylights do not open.

According to the folks at Thunderbolt Roofing & Construction, “the multitude of new skylight designs makes it easy to select the best one to complement your home and work with your specific type of roofing material. From simple tubular, flat and bubble type designs to peaked, circular and custom designs, the choices today seem endless.” Talk to your contractor about the best skylight style for your home and its optimal placement.

Blinds and Shades
Sometimes, you want to control the light that is coming in through your skylight. Specialized light filtering blinds or room darkening shades are available. Like the venting skylights themselves, the blinds also can be opened and closed manually or with a remote control. Some skylight models even have blinds integrated right into the unit.

Green Tip: Installing a skylight into a windowless area of your home helps to light it up, thus reducing your energy consumption. Also, properly placed skylights can add to your home’s passive heat gain.

Whether you are adding a tubular skylight into your walk-in closet, or installing a large venting skylight above your kitchen island, you will be bringing a bit of the outside in and improving the quality of light in your home. For more information on skylights, talk to your local home improvement expert or your roofing and window contractor.

Stay tuned for our upcoming blogs Natural Light, Parts 2 and 3 where we will be discussing sunrooms and clerestory windows respectively.

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