Brighten any room with a skylight

Want to add natural lighting and a dramatic dimension to any room? Consider skylights. Not only do they beautify any room, from bathrooms to bedrooms, they also add excellent ventilation and help improve your home's energy efficiency.

Not only are they attractive, skylights are environmentally friendly – an opening in your ceiling allows hot air to rise through (and sucks cold air through open windows below), cooling your home much more quickly and with less electricity than an air conditioner. They make an excellent complement to solar lights.

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For the Home

Residential sky lights come in all shapes and sizes, and traditional skylights have evolved to offer some new, fun options. For example, some Velux skylights feature electrochromic glazing to allow you to darken the glass by remote control. Look for skylight windows that are Energy Star-rated, have dual panes separated by argon gas and use low-e glass; such windows will help block UV rays which can fade furniture and carpeting and will insulate your home better.

Tubular skylights are growing in popularity because they offer an easy way to bring sunlight indoors. On the roof of your home, the tube is surrounded by a clear dome; light is trapped by the dome and travels down a reflective tube to the inside of your home. From the interior, tubular skylights look a lot like recessed lighting.

Where to buy?

For special projects, consider custom skylights, made for your specific area and needs. The design process will cost you, but many people feel it's worth the price to achieve a perfect room.

If you're looking for replacement skylights, take caution to ensure the new piece will fit the current hole. Even the smallest mistake during installation can leave room for leaks and air drafts.

Do it yourself?

Installing skylights can be a bit tricky. First and foremost, you must pick the proper location on your roof, taking into account where the sun hits your home at certain times of day. For example, do you prefer soft evening light in a bedroom, or do you want morning light in a kitchen? Also, try to avoid the strong glare of the midday sun.

Once you've chose the spot, be sure to select a do-it-yourself installation kit with flashings made for your specific type of roofing material (shingles, tile or metal). And measure, measure, measure – nothing will ruin your beautiful new skylight faster than a leak!