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How to Prevent Heat Loss from Your Skylight During Winter

5 February 2024
Research suggests that skylights may lose between 35 and 45 percent more heat in the winter compared to other areas of the house, especially if they are not thermally broken. This is a considerable factor to consider for homeowners looking to maintain energy efficiency during colder months.

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Research suggests that skylights may lose between 35 and 45 percent more heat in the winter compared to other areas of the house, especially if they are not thermally broken. This is a considerable factor to consider for homeowners looking to maintain energy efficiency during colder months.

Skylights offer homes a unique blend of natural light and architectural elegance, brightening spaces with a generous infusion of daylight. Despite their allure, apprehensions about heat loss in colder months can make homeowners hesitant, often dissuading them from installation.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, up to 25% of a home’s heat loss can be attributed to windows and doors, and skylights are no exception. Our article aims to provide insight into actions you can take to maintain the heat inside your home without sacrificing the charm of skylights.

Understanding the Causes of Skylight Heat Loss

Whether fixed, vented or tubular, skylight windows illuminate homes with natural light, enhancing ventilation and offering potential energy savings. Yet, they can also lead to significant heat loss, primarily through conduction, convection, and radiation.

These processes facilitate the movement of heat through the skylight’s materials, allowing warm air to escape and cold air to enter, impacting your home’s temperature and energy efficiency.

Convection heat loss is particularly notable as warm air rises and comes into contact with the cold surface of the skylight. This interaction cools the air, creating a draught loop that significantly affects the temperature levels below.

The issue persists for dual-paned skylights that lack thermal breaks; warm air rises, cools upon contact with the cold surface, and falls, only to be replaced by warmer air from below.
This cycle is exacerbated if there is a space of more than a quarter of an inch between the two glass panels, leading to intensified air circulation and further heat loss.

Radiation also poses a challenge for non-thermally broken roof lights, where the supporting frame, or integral upstand, between the roof structure increases the surface area and, consequently, the potential for heat loss.

At Sunsquare, we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of flat roof skylight design, manufacture, and installation. Our products are the only ones in the market to have achieved the BSI Kitemark for weathertightness, wind loading, and air permeability, making us world leaders in providing solutions for skylight heat loss. Our dual-pane skylights and innovative supporting frames are designed to minimise heat loss, address both convection and radiation issues, and ensure that your home remains energy-efficient and comfortable throughout the year.

Optimising Skylight Positioning for Winter Heat Retention

During the planning process for your skylight installation, you must carefully consider its position, as this will affect energy efficiency and heat retention during the colder months.
It’s just not for the purposes of aesthetics; the orientation of your skylight significantly influences the amount of sunlight it receives and, consequently, its ability to contribute to your home’s warmth.

Facing your skylight to the south allows it to receive the most sunlight throughout the day, making it advantageous against heat loss in winter. This increase in sunlight increases the overall temperature of your home, reducing the need to use artificial heating sources. This is a strategic choice if you reside in colder climates, where capturing every bit of warmth from the sun is essential.

However, the benefits of other orientations should be noticed. East-facing skylights are optimal for capturing morning light and solar heat, which can be especially pleasant and energy-efficient in the colder mornings of winter. West-facing skylights, conversely, garner more afternoon sunlight, which can be beneficial for warming your home as the day progresses

While north-facing skylights provide steady, cool illumination with the least direct sunlight, they are less effective for winter heat gain. Therefore, there might be better choices than this if your primary goal is to maximise warmth in the winter months.

An effective strategy for achieving better energy efficiency, particularly with south-facing skylights, involves positioning them underneath deciduous trees. This natural solution allows for sunlight blockage by the leaves during the summer, preventing excessive heat gain. In contrast, in the winter, the absence of leaves permits sunlight to pass through, contributing to the warmth of your home.

Optimally positioning is crucial when preventing heat loss through your skylight during the winter. A south-facing skylight is generally the most effective for keeping you warm. However, considering other orientations like east or west-facing can also contribute positively, depending on your specific needs and the daily solar patterns at your location. Combining this strategic positioning with the right type of skylight and materials will ensure maximum efficiency and comfort in your home during the colder months.

Incorporating Advanced Skylight Technology

Addressing these issues, companies like us here at Sunsquare have pioneered solutions with our thermally broken skylights. These skylights, enhanced with a UV-protective coating, are designed to keep homes warmer and drier while allowing ample natural light. They feature extruded aluminium profiles, polyamide insulating sections, and 24mm argon-filled low-E insulating glass units with advanced skylight glazing, effectively combating the conventional problems of heat loss and condensation. This innovative glaze helps make skylights more energy efficient by improving u-values and insulation properties.

Reducing Heat and Energy Loss with Sunsquare Upstands

The role of upstands is also crucial to energy efficiency. Sunsquare’s upstands, fully insulated with a U-value of 0.58, enhance the skylight’s appearance and provide significant energy benefits. This insulation, along with a meticulously applied sealant, reduces the chance of condensation and ensures a perfect fit, a critical aspect often overlooked with integrated upstands. Additionally, the careful management of the air inside these units further aids in maintaining the insulation properties, ensuring a sustainable and efficient environment.

Correct Skylight Slope: Balancing Aesthetics and Energy Efficiency

In the realm of skylight installation, one of the key factors influencing the efficiency of your skylight, especially in terms of heat retention during the winter months, is the slope or tilt of the skylight. Understanding and implementing the correct slope can significantly enhance the thermal performance of your skylight, ensuring that it contributes effectively to the warmth of your home during colder periods.

The principle behind the optimal slope of a skylight is relatively straightforward: the angle of the skylight affects how much solar heat can penetrate your home. A skylight with a lower slope tends to admit more heat in the summer and less in the winter, contrary to what is ideally required for energy efficiency in colder climates.

A widely accepted guideline within the industry suggests that the slope of your skylight should ideally equal your geographical latitude plus 5 to 15 degrees. For instance, if your location is at a latitude of 40 degrees, the optimal slope for your skylight would be between 45 and 55 degrees. This angle is designed to maximise winter solar heat gain, thereby reducing the need for additional heating and contributing to savings on your energy bills.

Remember, a skylight installed with the correct specifications enhances the aesthetic appeal of your property and pays dividends in terms of energy savings and indoor comfort.

Comprehensive Measures to Prevent Skylight Heat Loss

To mitigate heat loss, homeowners can take several measures. Installing insulation around the skylight’s frame and glass can significantly reduce heat transfer. Additionally, weather-stripping can prevent the escape of warm air and the entry of cold air. Window treatments, like blinds or shades, offer another insulation layer, further reducing heat loss.

Sunsquare skylights offer a perfect blend of style and energy efficiency, making them ideal for those looking to meet UK building regulations. These skylights enhance your home’s look and provide excellent thermal performance, especially in colder months.

Featuring advanced technology like thermally broken designs, they ensure natural light without losing warmth. Sunsquare’s range is perfect for architects, surveyors, and homeowners seeking aesthetic appeal and functional efficiency. Opt for Sunsquare to enjoy a well-lit, comfortable, and energy-efficient home.

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