Remember that sweet children’s song that advises us to “let the sun shine in” so we can enjoy life? Update it for today’s modern lifestyle, which gets lived in air-tight homes filled with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and maybe we should add “and let the volatile gases out.”
Nothing adds beauty and charm to a room like escaping volatile gases. And while a venting skylight adds visual drama to a room, it also helps remove gases, moisture, odors and other trapped VOCs through passive ventilation via the chimney effect it creates.
Passive ventilation can help alleviate “sick house” symptoms that develop when a house doesn’t “breathe” – or exchange stale indoor air for fresh outdoor air. Many items in the home, from adhesives, upholstery and carpet to the furnace, fireplaces and even pressed wood cabinets and cupboards, can emit VOCs into your home environment. Short-term exposure to VOCs can cause headaches, nausea, eye irritation, sore throat and nasal irritation. Venting VOCs through a skylight can improve the overall healthfulness of your indoor environment year-round.
Not only can modern skylights make your home greener, healthier and more livable, they are also now totally dependable according to Joe Patrick, senior product manager with Velux. “Newly redesigned skylights are now available with no-leak warranties on not only the product but also on the installation, so homeowners no longer need be concerned when they have a properly installed no-leak skylight,” he says.
“Think about the number of openings in a home,” Patrick says. “Vent pipes, chimneys, exhaust fans on the roof, windows and doors and vent pipes on the walls, and people don’t worry about them leaking. Modern skylights employ comparable or better technologies than any of those to keep water out and are no more prone to leaking when properly installed and flashed.”
Green builders know that when venting skylights are utilized, energy efficiency can be enhanced while adding natural light and passive ventilation to the home. Many Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified homes incorporate skylights as part of their lighting package.
Modern skylights use pre-engineered flashing kits designed and matched to work specifically with shingle, tile or metal roofs, and energy efficient models from leading manufacturers are Energy Star qualified. “Utilizing these matched flashing systems, plus multiple layers of water protection and other improvements have led to ‘No Leak Skylights’ that come with a no-leak product and installation warranty,” Patrick says.
Further enhancing the energy efficiency of skylights can be easily accomplished with accessories. A full range of blinds and controls is available, including Venetian blinds to provide style and comfort, roller blinds to diffuse the light, or blackout blinds to block the light. And blinds, like skylights, can be manually controlled, moved with a remote control, or even connected to a home command system that controls accessories and appliances throughout the house.
There are even solar blinds available for certain types of skylights that qualify for a 30 percent federal tax credit for the product and installation – with no cap on the credit through 2016. The credit can help you recoup up to 30 percent of the cost of the blinds and the labor to install them. Solar blinds are even more energy efficient because they utilize a built-in solar battery to power the mechanism that opens and closes the blinds.
Venting skylights are particularly popular in kitchens, baths, and laundry rooms for venting moisture, heat and cooking odors as well as for bringing natural light to much-used areas of the home. Sun Tunnel tubular skylights are particularly useful in entries, hallways, closets, interior baths and other smaller or confined areas where additional natural light is needed but where traditional skylights may not fit or be practical. Lighting kits are available for these units, enabling them to do double-duty at night.
Spring and summer are great times to make home improvements that deliver environmental, economic, emotional and physical health benefits. Adding a skylight and accessories delivers all those green pluses – and a trained professional can install units in as little as a day.