Stevens provides an informative explanation of how window companies build in features to boost the energy efficiency of their products. He discusses double panes for better insulating, argon gas filled spaces between panes to prevent radiant heat transfer from pane to pane, low-emittance (low-E) coatings that suppress heat flow, the use of wood, a natural insulator, in frames, and high quality construction techniques. The resulting products, he points out, keep the outside world where it belongs, a must-have feature in green products demanded by today's architects, builders, remodelers, and homeowners.
High quality, ENERGY STAR qualified skylights from leading manufacturers share all these qualities with windows, and more. Stephen Selkowitz, director of building technologies at the National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, a government-sponsored products research center, says that, "in the broadest sense, being green means enhancing a home's energy efficiency, and skylights today are the model of energy efficiency."
ENERGY STAR Web site information on skylight efficiency points out that traditional skylights use the same technologies described above as windows, "but these technologies are even more valuable for skylights, which receive direct sun in the summer and greater outside/inside temperature differentials in winter," the site says.
Joe Patrick, who heads national product management for skylight manufacturer VELUX America, points out that venting skylights create a natural chimney effect to silently exhaust volatile organic compounds (VOCs), hot, humid, stale air and other airborne pollutants from homes.
"And in addition to providing cost-efficient ventilation, ENERGY STAR qualified skylights," he says, "can work in perfect concert with vertical windows and doors to bring balanced natural light into homes to reduce energy bills."
Patrick adds that modern skylights make one of the biggest concerns of homeowners - the fear of leaks - a thing of the past. "Quality units offer matched, pre-engineered flashing kits for shingles, tile or metal roofing materials," he says. "They are designed and engineered to prevent leaks over the full life of a roof and, properly installed, simply don't leak." In fact, Patrick's company has introduced a new ENERGY STAR qualified product line, marketing it as the No Leak Skylight. "These units offer many new energy saving features plus three layers of water protection and are fully warranted," he says. "They also carry an industry-first ten-year installation warranty in addition to product coverage."
Patrick says that the growing availability of trained and certified skylight installation specialists also adds to the dependability of modern skylights.
And he points out that today's skylights contribute to energy efficiency with light and heat control as much as with ventilation by offering easily installed accessories to adjust and control light, as do vertical windows. "Venetian blinds are available to adjust light, as are roller blinds to diffuse light and blackout blinds to block light," he says. Solar blinds are also available that qualify for a 30 percent federal tax credit. These accessories, as well as the units themselves, can be operated by remote control.
In areas where traditional skylights might not be needed or won't fit, passive light (light without the heat emitted by electrical sources) is available through tubular skylights. VELUX SUN TUNNEL skylights, for example, are less expensive and easily installed, by a professional or by an experienced DIYer.
And while single tubular skylights are often used to bring natural light into smaller spaces including closets, windowless baths, laundry rooms and hallways, they are increasingly used in more expansive spaces in the home with multiple tubes grouped to provide balanced lighting and reduce energy costs.
They are available through installation specialists who install the units or at big box stores, building supply dealers, and specialty retail outlets. Optional light kits are available that install inside the tunnels for nighttime use. Some "super efficient" models meet the federal government's energy efficiency criteria, qualifying them for federal tax credits of up to 30 percent of the purchase and installation cost.
A relatively new product, tubular skylights says Selkowitz, are popular green products since they reduce energy consumption by providing natural light and cut down the transfer of heat, helping insulate against heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer.
For skylight selection or installation information visit veluxusa.com. 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.
Media contact: Keith Hobbs - Business Services Associates, Inc. - 9413 Greenfield Drive - Raleigh, NC 27615 - Phone - 919.844.0064 - E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Information: For natural lighting/daylighting and solar water heating feature material, case histories and background information, news releases, press kits and images visit the press room/media area at veluxusa.com. Social media links for VELUX are facebook.com/veluxamerica and twitter.com/veluxamerica.
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