5 Ways Commercial Skylights Risk Increasing Energy Bills
By Torrin Greathouse | August 24, 2017
While skylights are designed to reduce energy costs by eliminating the need for electric lighting throughout the day, likemany other solutions they can actually raise energy costs if poorly designed or integrated. Below are five ways your commercial skylights could actually increase your energy bills if you are not careful.
1. Increased Heat Gain
Because most traditional skylights are essentially horizontal windows in the roof of a building, they admit the most light when the sun is directly overhead. According to the U.S. Consumer Energy Center, this makes them far more susceptible to absorbing heat than vertical windows. Skylights that are not designed to avoid heat gain absorb as much as four times the heat that windows do, placing a sizeable strain on your building’s HVAC systems.
2. Heat Loss in Winter
The flip side of the issue above is heat loss. Because heat rises, buildings lose 35-45% more heat from skylights than windows during the winter months. While this can be prevented by investing in commercial skylights built to resist heat loss, it can be a major energy sink for facilities which are not designed to deal with it.
3. Lack of Weather Resistance
An issue that many traditional skylights face, either from issues with installation or poor design, is a lack of efficient weather resistance. This can be a serious problem if moisture is able to penetrate the building envelope, which can cause rot and other structural damage. Not only that, but during periods of high precipitation, this can cause water to leak into the building, reducing interior temperatures and forcing HVAC systems to work overtime to compensate.
4. Risk of Ice Dams
Flat commercial skylight designs can gather rain, sleet, and snow, which can form into ice dams when the temperature drops. This additional weight on the roof wears down building materials and can damage your skylights. Not only that, but the buildup of ice and snow can prevent light from reaching the building and cause increased heat loss.
5. Inefficient or Inconsistent Light
Another key issue with passive, traditional skylight designs is that they do not provide consistent light throughout the day. As the sun moves and changes angle through the sky the quantity and quality can change drastically. Sunlight often pools creating harsh divisions of light and dark and generating glare, which contributes to repetitive eye strain. This means that facilities often have to use artificial lights to compensate for the inconsistent light, raising energy costs.