Monday, 27 June 2011

Energy Efficent Skylights - Why is this important?

When people look for skylights to install into their home, we often find their main focus is of course to add more light into the room and often the only area of concern is whether the product will be leak proof. Whilst understandable, the truth is, these days most of the well known skylight or roof window products are about as leak proof as you can get. So as long as you stick with the well known brands, your unlikely to have any problems.

But often homeowners forget to consider the importance of installing a product that has also been rated as energy efficent.

So what do we mean by 'energy efficent' when it comes to a skylight? There are two main areas to consider when installing any product that means introducing a penetration into your roof and through to your house.

Firstly, as it is Winter, heat loss. We all know heat rises, so as soon as you introduce a way for heat to escape through your ceiling space you risk loosing all of that wonderful heat generated by your fire, heaters or air-con up into your roof space and out into the open air. Of course, this makes it more difficult to keep your home warm and you can end up spending more money generating the heat to replace that which is lost. Not very energy efficient or financially sound.

The industry measurement designed to provide a guideline for heat loss performance for all window & skylight products is called a U-Factor and is judged in units of 2-10, the lower the number the better the performance against heat loss.

Secondly, because skylights filter sunlight into our homes, there can be an additional heat load placed on that room and generally the bigger the skylight or roof window the more heat is transferred. This not only makes your room more uncomfortable but also increases the need for air conditioning or other cooling measures. Especially during the warmer summer months when the sun is at its hottest.

Again there is an industry measurement that helps homeowners compare the heat gain performance of skylights & roof windows they are considering purchasing and this is known as the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient or SHGC for short. This is measured in terms of 0-1, but this time the higher the value the better the performance against heat gain.

Unfortunately Skylights in Australia are not required to undergo the necessary testing to assess their SHGC performance. This means that as a consumer, it makes it difficult to compare most Australian Skylight products effectiveness against heat gain.

However it's worth asking the question before commiting to a purchase and where ever possible, choose a product (like our Solatube Skylight System) that has been tested and can prove it isn't going to increase your energy consumption after it has been installed.

What are you looking for in a Skylight System? What questions do you ask and have you found it easy to get energy test results from suppliers? We'd love to hear from you! 

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