Everything You Need to Know About Using Skylights for Ventilation

There are a number of homes that are equipped with skylights, but most often, people only see them as an aesthetic addition. If you don’t have a skylight, it’s basically a window built into the roof of your home that you can admire by looking up at your ceiling. Skylights allow light to pour into a room without relinquishing any of your privacy. They’re a great way to open up your home, but they’re not just for lighting control. Skylights can actually help provide your home with some much-needed ventilation. This is great news for homeowners. Instead of relying on HVAC systems to try to keep your home cool and comfortable during hot months, skylights are an economical way to reduce your efforts. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about using skylights for ventilation.

How Skylights Work

If you opt for a skylight with ventilation capabilities, it works by letting out the hot air that naturally rises in your home. Using passive cooling, skylights will help you maintain a comfortable in-home temperature. The chimney effect can further assist this ventilation. If you have your skylight open, then open a window on the first floor of your home and the cooler air will flow in and actively push the warm, stale air out of the skylight. This is a huge way to reduce the use of your air conditioning unit while maintaining cool indoor temperatures. Both passive cooling and the chimney effect contribute to a more energy efficient home.

There are options for both manual and automatic skylight units. For manual units you’ll have some sort of mechanisms—pole, crank, or chain of sorts—that you can use to open and close the skylight throughout the day. Automatic skylights are also available and can be opened or closed using switches, remotes, or buttons. Some automatic skylights are even equipped with sensors that detect moisture levels in the air so they automatically close when it’s raining. Not surprisingly, automatic units tend to be more expensive, but many people find the cost justifiable due to the added convenience.

If you want to make sure your skylight is as efficient as possible, you can add glazing effects to help control solar heat. Glazing uses plastic or glass to help reflect the sunlight so it doesn’t add to the temperature inside of your home. Glass options are usually better at keeping out UV rays and will last longer, but plastic glazing is much more affordable. Talk to your roofing contractor to find an option that’s best for you. Depending on where you live, you might be able to skip skylight glazing without any negative side effects.

The Benefits of Ventilation

Having a well-ventilated roof and attic is imperative to the efficiency and comfort of your home. While there are a few drawbacks to having a skylight, proper installation and set-up will mitigate them. It makes having a strong ventilation system well worth it and you’ll reap the benefits. Some of which include:

Reduced Energy Costs

When you have a well-ventilated roofing system, your home will stay cool when you want it to. Your air conditioner won’t need to work as hard to keep you comfortable and when your air conditioner isn’t constantly running, your electric bill drops. This makes an even bigger difference on two-story homes.

More Comfortable Home

Coinciding with reduced energy costs is a more comfortable living space. Ventilation systems help the hot air escape rather than trap it on the second story of your home. This results in a more uniform temperature throughout your home, making sleeping conditions much more comfortable.

Longer Roof Life

Your roof already faces a number of stressors. Harsh weather and direct sunlight eventually lead to its demise, especially when you are dealing with ice dams. If you have ice build-up on your roof, it means your ventilation system is insufficient. The proper ventilation will allow the warm air from your home to escape and effectively melt the snow without causing strain on your roof. This helps elongate your roof’s lifespan. Similarly, in the summers, ventilation gives hot air a place to escape and reduces the chance for shingle damage. Skylights can help you increase the efficiency of your home’s overall ventilation.

Reduces Moisture

Airflow helps keep your home dry. Without it, moisture can build up in your walls, attic, and even ceilings. This leads to problems with mold and mildew that can affect the structural integrity of your house and create extremely unpleasant odors. Ventilation reduces moisture in your home, keeps insulation dry, and helps reduce problems that can contribute to unsafe living conditions.

Deters Pests

Finally, with the proper ventilation, you’ll experience fewer problems with pests. Warm, moist attics are a breeding ground, but with the proper insulation, you’ll reduce the likelihood of this happening.

Different Types of Skylight Ventilation

Depending on your needs, you can choose from many different styles of skylights that will provide varying degrees of ventilation. The type of skylight you choose alongside any additional features will have an impact on the energy performance, so it’s best to discuss your options with a professional roofing contractor. Some of the main types of skylights include non-vented, passive ventilation, dome fans, skylight fans, and opening skylights.

Non-Vented Skylights

As the name suggests, this type of skylight will not provide you with any added ventilation. They’re used solely for lighting and design purposes. Even though these don’t actually add to your home’s ventilation system, they are the skylights most commonly installed across the U.S.

Passive Ventilation Skylights

Passive ventilation helps to keep the temperature inside of your home regulated by allowing fresh air to pass inside and push out stale air—all without the added use of electricity. The exhaust vents work round the clock from the natural phenomenon of hot air rising.

Dome Fan Skylights

If you opt for dome fan skylights, a dome fan is installed over the top of a non-vented skylight. These are most commonly found in bathrooms or laundry rooms and runs on electricity. The dome fan sucks out stale air allowing fresh air to circulate. These aren’t as common anymore as skylight fans are replacing them.

Skylight Fans

Skylight fans work in a similar way to dome fans, but are much more common. They’re used in bathrooms and laundry rooms and work only with electrical systems attached. A wall switch turns on this system then the fan sucks air up and out of the room to expel it outside. There are no protrusions on your roof with skylight fans.

Opening Skylights

Finally, there is the option to install opening skylights. These are skylights that can be manually or automatically opened and closed, just like a regular window. Automatic skylights, due to the electrical systems needed to open and close the window, are a bit more expensive. Regardless, people often choose to have these installed with a motor so they’re easier to control. Opening skylights offer a more natural airflow throughout your home.

Positioning and Installing Skylights

After you’ve decided which type of skylight will work best in your home, you’ll want to consider placement. While there is a lot of information that says skylights facing a certain direction will give you more or less sunlight, there’s really nothing you can do about the slope and positioning of your roof. Throughout the day, sun exposure levels will vary. Figure out where you want to position your skylight, then consider your options of clear vs. tinted glass, glazing, or look into adding blinds.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to install a skylight in your home for ventilation, it’s important to talk to a professional roofing contractor. Your roof is a very sensitive unit and it’s not worth taking the risk of installing skylights improperly. Installing a skylight requires the removal of areas of your roof, which can compromise the structural integrity. On the contrary, proper installation will help increase your roof’s longevity, aesthetics, and overall function without any added problems along the way. Luckily, the professionals at First Star Exteriors Roofing & Siding are happy to help you choose and install your skylights. All of our contractors are trained and experienced in this type of work to make sure that the job is done right, without any problems.

At First Star Exteriors Roofing & Siding, we pride ourselves on our hands-on, personable partnerships and work to meet the goals of our clients. That’s why our team is dedicated to providing high quality work with 100% transparency. If you’re looking for an expert roofing company that you can trust, look no further than First Star Exteriors Roofing & Siding. With over 10 years of experience we’re here to help you with all of your roofing needs. We offer fast turnarounds for quotes and services to make sure your needs are addressed in a timely manner. Contact us today and receive a free quote within 48 hours!

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