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INNOVATION: Solar-powered skylights and blinds “enlighten” your home while saving money

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Enlightenment isn’t just a state of mind; it can also be an important energy-saving state of being for your home’s roof. By “enlightening” your roof, you can use less energy, save money and dress up the interior of your home at the same time.

All roofs protect our homes, but a roof with skylights can also be the collection and distribution point for an inexhaustible supply of free natural light and energy.

Functional and aesthetic qualities of skylights

A roof with Energy Star-qualified, no-leak, solar-powered fresh-air skylights for instance, admits healthful natural light while providing passive ventilation through the natural “chimney or stack effect” of rising air when the units are open. This is not an insignificant consideration, especially in kitchens and baths, which have higher moisture and humidity levels than other areas of the home.

In addition to the functional qualities these and other roof improvements offer, there are also aesthetic considerations. Skylights offer room-changing drama and decorating flair while adding natural light from above. And skylight blinds, in colors and pattern choices to mix and match with room decor, give homeowners another interior design tool. Blinds not only dress up a room but also provide light control while increasing the energy efficiency and usefulness of skylights.

Benefit of blinds 
on energy efficiency

According to skylight manufacturer Velux America, the addition of blinds can increase the overall energy efficiency of the units by 37 percent. The company recommends closing the blinds on high heat/sun days in the summer to reduce potential solar heat gain. On cold winter nights, the company recommends closing them to provide an extra layer of thermal insulation to keep warm air indoors. Skylight blinds, as well as the units themselves, can be controlled manually or with a remote.

A perk for privacy

Skylights can also help address light and privacy issues in kitchens and bathrooms. Many modern homes are built on small lots, in very close proximity to neighboring houses.

“Light from windows is rarely enough, especially in places where lot sizes are small,” says Jennifer Powers of design firm Scott-Ulmann.

Tax benefit eligibility

Both the solar-powered skylights and installation, as well as solar-powered blinds, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit. With homeowner eligibility averaging around $850, the whole fresh air skylight package becomes very affordable.

According to Ross Vandermark, national product manager for Velux, “In some cases, it can actually be less expensive [given the tax credit eligibility] for a homeowner to have a no-leak solar-powered fresh-air skylight installed rather than a fixed, manual venting or electric venting model.”

Modern, low-profile skylights are unobtrusive and as dependable as vertical windows. Information about units with a 10-year no-leak installation warranty, plus an installer locator, is available at veluxusa.com. There’s also a free mobile phone app there to help homeowners see how skylights and blinds would look in rooms in their own homes.

Find out more

For government information on window and skylight energy efficiency visit energystar.gov. For remodeling information visit nahb.org/remodel or greenhomeguide.org. For details and access to an easy-to-use federal tax credit estimator for new construction or replacement installations, homeowners can visit http://www.veluxusa.com/consumer/products/taxcredits.aspx.


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