WRITER | MARY ROSE KULCZAK
In the darker days of winter, homeowners often search for ways to lighten up the four walls of their indoor spaces, forgetting to look up to the fifth wall for the solution. Skylights are an obvious choice for bringing natural light to interiors.
“Natural light is essential to keeping our circadian rhythm in sync, especially in the winter months when there’s less daylight,” said Ross Vandermark, national product manager for VELUX, a leading manufacturer of skylights and sun tunnels.
There are many options to choose from, including fixed skylights, manually and electrically opening skylights, and solar-powered “fresh air” skylights. In addition, VELUX offers Sun Tunnel® Skylights, which allow natural light to stream through a reflective tunnel, providing daylight to rooms where a sky view is not needed.
“Skylights have come a long way over the years, so the fear of leaky skylights is a thing of the past when it comes to VELUX skylights. We created the No Leak Skylight, which, when properly installed, is guaranteed not to leak. Incorporating solar-powered options allows homeowners to rely less on electricity without sacrificing the amount of natural light and fresh air they can bring into their homes.”
While skylights can be installed at any time, Vandermark said that one of the best times to install them is during a roof replacement. “That way, homeowners have the option to align their roof and skylight warranties and maintenance dates. Older skylights can also easily be replaced, and that often provides the homeowner with the big upgrade in functionality.”
Typical installation of a single skylight takes one to two days, with bigger installations taking three to five days. Sun tunnel installations can be completed in just 90 minutes.
“We designed our products so any general contractor or roofing contractor can easily follow the installation instructions and do a quality job. Skylights are not a do-it-yourself job,” he cautions. “Be sure to hire an experienced, certified installer who can help install in new or replacement projects.”
With proper maintenance, skylights can perform reliably for up to 20 years. Interiors can be cleaned with a simple glass cleaner and a soft cloth, while exteriors can be rinsed with water.
“When you clean your rain gutters, do the same for your skylights, with yearly removal of leaves and other debris that can accumulate on the roof around the skylight,” Vandermark recommends. “If condensation forms on the glass, homeowners should use it as a warning sign to open their skylights more often. Regular airflow is the most efficient way to prevent condensation from forming.”
Skylights that open can also add to a home’s energy efficiency by using natural ventilation to cool spaces during warmer months. “Skylights that can be opened help to improve indoor air quality, which can become polluted with the accumulation of moisture, cooking byproducts, and off-gassing of synthetic materials,” he added.
“Incorporating nature into our homes, including natural light and fresh air, affects our overall wellness,” Vandermark concluded. “According to the EPA, we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, so bringing nature inside is increasingly important.”