The Pros & Cons of Adding Skylights

With the passing of spring and the approach of summer, few people would say no to a little more sun in their lives. But are skylights worth the trouble?

By Ashley Gebert

 

Skylights have been around for centuries. Even the ancient Romans included them in their architecture to lighten up dark areas of their buildings. But shedding a little light into your home isn’t the only reason to install a skylight or two, and adding them doesn’t always equal instant sunshine, either. Take a look at these pros and cons of adding skylights, before you begin a massive renovation on your roof.

 

Pros

1. They Increase Natural Light

Skylights can brighten any space during the day. This is especially helpful in rainy or overcast climates, or in houses that let in very little natural light from their existing windows. Skylights are commonly installed in bathrooms, especially those in the center of the house, to let in some natural light in a room that otherwise couldn't have a window. Use of skylights will also allow your household to cut down on the amount of lights you turn on during the day, saving you a bit of money on your electricity bill.

 

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2. Extended Space

Small spaces can appear larger than they actually are when illuminated by natural light and skylights. An ordinarily cramped room will feel significantly larger with the inclusion of a skylight, even though you’ve done nothing to the actual size. Many homeowners will use mirrors and natural light to enhance the visual space of a room. Skylights are perhaps the most effective method to add in perceived space, as they allow for light to enter the room and also offer a view out with no obstruction.

 

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3. Solar Heating & Ventilation

During the chilly winter, having a bit of extra heat from sunlight is a huge plus. This added sunlight can help cut down on your electrical bill, as you'll get more natural warmth entering your home from above. On cloudy days, however, your home may experience more heat loss than gain. Many newer skylights make great strides to prevent too much heat loss however, with Low-E glass and blinds.

 

Additionally, in warmer weather, some models of skylights have the added benefit of having remote controls to open them up, allowing for greater air flow in the home and better ventilation. Heat rises, so when the house gets a bit stuffy, opening the skylight and allowing some of that stale air to exit upward is a blessing.

 

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4. Emotional Benefits

Skylights can actually reduce the effects of certain afflictions, such as winter depression and seasonal affective disorder. Those who suffer from these issues often benefit from an increase in sunlight exposure, which a skylight will definitely provide. If the winter season gets you down, consider looking into a skylight to bring in the brightness.

 

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Cons

1. Energy Leaks

Unfortunately, skylights can leak precious heat and energy, especially if they are installed incorrectly or are of a cheaper make. In some cases, the energy lost through the window could end up costing more than the money saved by using fewer electric lights. To combat this issue, consult with your installer about possible changes in energy costs and discuss the use of energy-efficient upgrades, such as double-paned windows. Luckily, these issues become far less prevalent when working with experienced installers and purchasing good quality brands. 

 

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2. The Expense

The installation and upkeep can be quite expensive. In fact, skylights can cost anywhere from $200 to $3,000 just for the product and installation. The costs of these two things will depend upon which type of skylight you’re having installed (manual, electric, covered, etc.) and which company you use. This cost does not include any necessary maintenance and repairs.

 

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3. Sun Glare and Fading

The sun glare cast by skylights can actually fade your carpet and the fabric on your couches. Although this disadvantage can be greatly reduced with certain types of filtered window panes, it’s still important to keep in mind, especially when you’re determining which part of your house should include an extra ceiling window. 

 

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4. Moisture Leaks

When considering a skylight or two, also consider potential moisture leaks. If water starts trickling into your house during a rainstorm, precious items can be damaged or destroyed, and unfortunately, moisture leaks often happen with skylights. Combat this disadvantage with regular maintenance and good ventilation. When installing your skylights, also be sure they are air permeable.

 

 

Let the Sun in

With the passing of spring and the approach of summer, few people would say no to a little more sun in their lives. But are skylights worth the trouble? That's all up to you. While it may be an investment and potentially come with a few hiccups along the way, the benefit of more light and space in the home is certainly an enticing one.

 

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Images used with permission, courtesy of www.dreamstime.com and www.shutterstock.com

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