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April 24, 2014  |  Login
Daylighting to Save Energy
By Eric Corey Freed
 
People love natural light. Subconsciously, we seek out sunlit places and enjoy spending time in natural light. Beyond fulfilling this desire, however, there are some tangible benefits to adding natural daylighting into your home.
 
Studies have proven that daylighting speeds up recovery from illness. Also, kids will have better concentration while studying under natural daylight, and it reduces eyestrain.

Following are a few of your options.

Skylights

Skylights are rooftop windows. They bring in twice the light of a traditional window of the same size. Skylights eliminate the need for electric lighting during the day.
 
To reduce the heat gain from too much sun, install skylights on the north side of the roof. Double-glazed skylights have two layers of glass to help insulate the skylight. Choose operable skylights to capture passing breezes.

Sun Tunnels

A sun tunnel (like the one shown below) uses a small dome skylight on the roof and another on the ceiling of a room. A flexible tube, similar to a clothes-dryer vent, connects both domes. Also called a “sun tube,” “sun pipe,” or “solar tube,” light bounces around the inside of this tube, creating a bright skylight inside. Sun tunnels are inexpensive and easy to install, and they’re perfect for existing homes or houses with tall attic spaces.
 

Courtesy of Solatube International, Inc.

Mirrors

Because a mirror reflects light, well-placed mirrors can be used to reflect the light, doubling the amount of ambient light in a room. You can use bulbs of half the normal wattage, or half the number of fixtures, with no loss in light level. The potential energy savings is enormous (50% in this simple example).

The typical mirror is a sheet of flat plate glass coated with aluminum or silver on one side. The opposite side is a highly reflective surface. Because the coating is on the backside, it’s protected from scratching and will typically last a very long time.

Today, the modern mirror uses less than 3% lead content in the paint coating. In fact, lead-free mirrors are now commonly available. Because glass itself it a natural material, mirrors are inherently green materials.
Mirrored glass cannot be recycled, but if protected, it can last many years with minimal maintenance. It does not release chemicals, and glass is one of the most commonly recycled materials in the world.

Light Shelves

The principle behind daylighting is simple: By using natural light, you reduce the need for electricity. In practice, however, bringing daylight deep into a home can be challenging.  ....read more
 
 

 

 
 
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