Are skylights a good idea? My partner says it will admit too much heat in the summer.

Asked by sara
Akron, OH

I would like to install a small skylight in our bedroom (for aesthetic, ventilation and lighting purposes), but my partner says it will admit too much heat in the summer. We are in Ohio, where the summer sun comes in at about 60 degrees, I believe, and a skylight, even on the northern slope of the roof, might let in too much heat. Would shades on the skylight be a solution?


Harris Woodward

Answered by Harris Woodward

Savage, MD

Finish Werks Green Builders

August 3, 2010

A skylight is like chocolate: you don't enjoy it because it's good for you. However, real chocolate has many benefits that we don't focus on. Skylights benefit our psyche when beautiful sunlight pours in from above.

Don't treat a skylight as an energy efficiency tool; this is what a solar tube is for. Approach a skylight as a treat you'd like to wake up to on a Sunday morning.

That said, there are plenty of ways to improve upon the basic inefficiency (relative to windows) of this glazing.

  • Many manufacturers offer built-in manual or powered interior sunshades.
  • Velux offers a power exterior cover that literally shuts off the sun.
  • You can purchase an In'Flector for seasonal energy management at a much lower cost, and
  • you can open a skylight to facilitate stack-effect ventilation of your home.

The bottom line is, you can equip a skylight to control solar gain and building ventilation.

At the risk of pushing an R-rating, skylights in the bedroom are primarily about feeling good. When done right, there should be little impact on energy consumption for feeling great.

For more information:

Read Florian Speier's Q&A "I am trying to research, compare and decide the most energy efficient product for all my windows: solar screens vs. solar film?"

Tagged In: heat loss, solar gain, daylighting

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