Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Spring Forward with Daylight Savings!

The second Sunday in March brings the welcome return of Daylight Saving Time. After our clocks have had their “spring forward” adjustment, it’s a bit rugged getting out of bed that next morning. Yet our morning struggle is quickly rewarded by leaving work that evening and the sun is still shining. Our spirits are boosted because we feel that winter is finally on its last gasp. 

Take Advantage of Natural Light and Save Energy

Another plus about Daylight Saving Time is that it provides an opportunity to think about natural light as an energy savings strategy for our homes. Here are some “daylighting” tips on how you can improve your energy efficiency by taking advantage of natural light and controlling heat loss and gain in your home.   

Keep Window Orientation in Mind:

·        South-facing windows allow the most sunlight during winter months, but deliver little light during the summer.
·         North-facing windows admit an even and consistent light with little glare and no unwanted summer heat gain.
·         East and West-facing windows provide good morning and evening light respectively, but can also cause glare and heat gain in the summer. This orientation also offers little solar heating benefits in the winter months.

Window Treatments that Control Heat Gain and Loss:

·         Interior Blinds are useful in the summer months for controlling light and ventilation by reducing heat gain up to 45%. Blind slats can be tipped upwards for reflective light that bounces from the room’s ceiling. Keep in mind the color you paint your ceiling.
·         Exterior Blinds are similar in that they are more useful during summer months by providing shade and the ability to control ventilation.
·         Drapes are surprisingly effective in both winter and summer by reducing heat gain and loss. Efficiency can be enhanced by specific types of materials and even the fabric’s color. The right combination of material and color can reduce heat gain by up to 33% in the summer and control heat loss in the winter by 10%.
·         Shades should be mounted as close to the window glass as possible to establish a sealed air space. Quilted Roman shades that contain fiber batting and sealed edges will act as both insulation and an air barrier. Another option are shades that have a highly reflective white on one side and the other side is a dark heat absorbing surface. These highly effective shades can be reversed with the season.
·         Reflective Window Film is suitable in parts of the country that have unusually long, hot summers. These mirror-like films are most effective on east and west-facing windows that receive more intense sunlight and heat gain.

Skylights Can Deliver Natural Light and Ventilation:

·         Location of a skylight is critical for maximizing the natural benefits of daylighting and passive solar heating. Skylights on north-facing roofs provide a consistent, yet cool light. Skylights on east-facing roofs deliver maximum light and heat during morning hours. Skylights on west-facing roofs offer afternoon sunlight and heat which is particularly good during winter months. Consider the orientation of the roof when installing a skylight.
·         Angle of the skylight is important in terms of solar heat gain. For example, a low slope skylight will become absorb more heat in the summer and less in the winter. In other words – not a very useful strategy. Speak with a professional to understand the relationship between your home’s latitude and the desired slope of the skylight.
·         Selection and Installation is important and should be handled by a professional. The wrong selection of a skylight or a poor quality installation can have the opposite effect leaving you with too much heat gain, air gaps, drafts and water leaks.

To learn more about daylighting, clickhere to see additional information from the Energy Experts Blog.