When you think of skylights, you may picture them as unattractive, inefficient, fading plastic bubbles that leak. If so, you re probably thinking, to paraphrase an old auto commercial, of your father s skylights.
According to Joe Patrick, product manager with VELUX America, today s skylights, properly installed, don t leak. Matched flashing systems and other improvements have done away with the number one fear of people who are considering cutting a hole in a perfectly good roof, Patrick says.
And where are skylights most used? Traditionally in bathrooms and kitchens. According to an American Standard survey, American homeowners say if they had a choice of accessories for the ultimate dream bathroom, the number one option would be a skylight to bathe the room with more natural light. Add the privacy factor of light from above, plus the additional ventilation available with skylights, and you ve upgraded one of the most-used rooms in the home.
Aside from the aesthetic benefits of natural light, there are health related considerations. Studies show that 20 percent of our population suffers varying degrees of Seasonal Affective disorder (SAD). Individuals with SAD may experience depression, lower energy, an increased appetite, and a need for more sleep. SAD is directly linked to insufficient daylight.
And there are other light-related health considerations. Are there older adults in your home? Researchers McFarland and Fisher report that to accommodate the adaptation of the aging eye, the amount of light required for visual acuity doubles for each 13 years after the age of 20. More natural light equals better sight.
Or, perhaps you have youngsters at home. Students perform significantly better in environments that are lit with natural rather than artificial light. A study directed by Heschong Mahone Group in California tracked test scores for 21,000 students in California, Colorado and Washington and found that learning rates were 26 percent higher in reading and 20 percent higher in math in rooms with the most natural light.
Low-E energy-efficient glass in modern units is durable, reduces external noises, and won t discolor as did older plastic bubble skylights. And skylights no longer just sit there. Light and heat gain or loss through skylights can be controlled as never before. Electric venting models are available with remote control, blinds, shades, awnings, insect screening and automatic rain sensors. And now there are even skylights available with electrochromic glass that can be lightened and darkened by remote control without ever losing your view to the sky. For simple, quick installation in areas where traditional skylights may not be the best solution, or won't fit, sun tunnel skylights may be the answer. They offer highly reflective rigid or flexible tubing to go around obstructions between the roof and ceiling, and provide abundant natural light in hallways, bathrooms, pantries, walk-in closets or other smaller, confined areas.
For government information on window and skylight energy efficiency visit www.energystar.gov, and for independent agency information visit www.nfrc.org or www.efficientwindows.org. Courtesy of ARA
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