Get More Light And Improve Your Health With Skylights

Written by on July 4, 2013 in Health - No comments | Print this page



The importance of saving energy is on all of our minds. Throughout all our attempts to find new ways of harnessing renewable energy, the ultimate ambition is to fully utilize the greatest energy source of all, the one directly above us. The sun, after all, is the battery that powers life on Earth.

That’s not to say that skylights are the key to channelling solar energy, but they’re a method of capturing sunlight and using it to fulfill functions that traditionally rely on other sources of power, and they demonstrate the benefits that such methods can provide.

Roof lanterns

In truth, skylights have been in use since at least as far back as the 18th century, when they were referred to as “roof lanterns” and only the wealthy could afford to have them installed.

They allowed people to navigate darker rooms and staircases without having to use candles. In Victorian times they became more affordable to everyone due to technological advancement. However, the manner of installation in those days could occasionally result in excess light and heat, and even leaks.

Modern skylight installation methods ensure that the opening lets through only what it’s supposed to. They are designed to control the amount of heat that accompanies the sunlight, and are positioned to ensure optimal reflection of light so as to provide adequate illumination.

Property owners nowadays are presented with remote controls that can open or close skylights at will, and some even have sensors that cause them to shut automatically in response to rain.

Controlling sunlight

We’d all prefer to see by sunlight wherever possible, but sunlight isn’t always there when it’s needed. There are parts of a building it may fail to reach no matter how many windows there are, and on cloudy days its availability is severely reduced. Yet, there are materials that can reveal the sunlight even when the clouds conceal it from the human eye.

It’s believed that the discovery of the sunstone enabled the Vikings to use sunlight even on overcast days, and so it provided them with the means to travel as far as North America centuries before Christopher Columbus with his advanced navigation techniques.

Sunstone can refract what small amount of light was able to pierce the clouds, revealing the position of the sun so the Vikings could properly chart the course of their longboats.

Modern skylights similarly are able to provide illumination by sunlight even on cloudy days. They can provide around five times as much natural light as that of a window, capturing and enhancing the light so as to illuminate areas that might otherwise have required electric lighting, even during the daytime.

Benefits of skylights

Skylights are an environmentally-friendly means of providing light and heat, due to the conservation of electric energy that would otherwise have been required to do so.

Their ability to increase the distribution of natural sunlight also provides benefits to both physical and psychological health, as they help supply the body with much-needed vitamin D and contribute to serotonin production; the brain chemical responsible for mood regulation.

A study of test scores for 21,000 students in the United States found results to be significantly higher in classrooms that made use of skylights, demonstrating the boost to productivity that increased distribution of sunlight can provide.

The human body craves sunlight, and the mind naturally associates it with progress. Industries dream of harnessing it, and while skylights may not quite be the ambitious technologies they’re dreaming of, the Vikings’ discovery of sunstone, and their subsequent invasion of Europe, shows that even a little more sunlight can make a world of difference.

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Because Matthew Flax cares a great deal about the environment, he incorporates renewable energy into as many aspects of his life as possible. He can testify as to the effectiveness of the skylights he bought in Cape Town when it comes to saving energy.


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