Monthly Archives: April 2009

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Open Up Your World to Skylights and Sun Tunnels

Posted on by Kathleen Jaron

Skylights and sun tunnels are two innovative ways to bring natural light into the interior rooms of your home. Skylights are windows or see-through panels located on the roof.   In rooms with angled ceilings that match the angle of the roof, the skylight is mounted on the roof and light travels directly into the room.  In rooms with flat ceilings that do not match the angle of the roof above, it is fairly typical to have a light well made of drywall built around the roof mounted skylight that connects the skylight to the room’s flat ceiling.  This light well brings the light into the room.  These applications work when a skylight can be placed directly above a room.   Sun tunnels are often used when there are obstructions in the attic that prevent the installation of a skylight.  Sun tunnels are similar to skylights, but rather than a light well, sun tunnels have a tube with a reflective interior lining that captures natural light from a roof mounted dome and channels the light indirectly into the room.  This tunnel often travels at a slight angle through attic space. Sun tunnels can be installed in kitchens, living rooms, hallways and other areas of the home that may not have ample natural lighting.

Bathroom SkylightSkylights

These ‘windows in the ceiling’ can increase natural lighting and make a room feel brighter and larger.   When properly installed as part of a Bay Area home remodeling project, skylights can help homeowners cut costs on an electricity bill while enhancing the home’s level of sophistication.   Skylights are available in a wide array of shapes and sizes with UV protected glass in a variety of tints.  Skylights can be fixed, or operable.  Operable skylights increase the fresh air flow and are often available with easy to use remote controls.

 

Sun Tunnels

Starting in sizes roughly a foot across and available in both round and square shapes, a sun tunnel diffuser panel sits on the ceiling level of a room.  From there the connected sun tunnel extends through and across attic space to a roof mounted clear dome.  The interior effect in the room’s ceiling appears similar to recessed lighting. Kitchen Sun TunnelSun tunnels can be integrated into roof systems with slopes between 15 and 60 degrees.  Choose a diffuser for the sun tunnel that limits both glare and bright spots.

Federal Tax Credit

Homeowners interested in improving their energy efficiency will like the green impact of skylights and sun tunnels. Skylights and sun tunnels bring the illuminating properties of daylight into dark rooms. Federal tax credits of up to $200 are available for certain products through the federal government’s Energy Star program. They must be purchased and installed by Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. The tax credit covers replacement windows, including a variety of skylights, as well as new ones put in as part of a home addition.

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A Look at the Hottest Residential Solar Energy Options

Posted on by Design Team

There are several different alternatives available for homeowners hoping to become more energy efficient. Solar energy, in particular, can be an excellent choice for Bay Area homeowners, with options ranging from passive solar design to solar water heaters to photovoltaic panels. Here’s a look at some of the options that can be incorporated into your custom remodeling project.

Passive Solar Heating

One way to make your home more energy efficient is through passive solar heating and cooling techniques. Passive solar building design relies on the collection, storage and distribution of solar energy through the optimal placement and design of interior and exterior walls, windows and floors. For example, one can use reflective coatings on exterior walls and roofing. Overhangs, insulation and careful landscaping can all lower energy use. Deliberate placement of windows and effective ventilation are also important elements. For a whole-home remodeling approach centered around passive solar energy, it’s critical to make changes to the areas in your home that use or lose the most energy. Passive solar heating and cooling requires little maintenance and no mechanical system installation, but it’s important to plan early in your design and build process for best results.

Photovoltaic Systems

solar panelsA photovoltaic solar system involves the installation of solar panels. They can be integrated into your building materials and roof shingles, or installed on top of the roof for a more traditional solar look. Some solar-powered items for your home remodel include a water heater, pool heater and flooring. The home can be partially or entirely powered with solar energy. If you choose to do a whole-home conversion, you can stay connected to the utility grid or go “off the grid” and provide your own collection, regulation, conversion and distribution. There are various federal and state incentives, rebates and tax credits available for different systems.

Outdoor Landscapingsolar landscape light

If you’re looking for a smaller-scale use of solar power, try solar lighting outdoors for your garden, patio, front walk or pool area. This makes your outdoor living spaces safer and more inviting for parties and barbecues, as well as just spending time outdoors in solitude. Put solar lights in areas that receive a considerable amount of sunshine to maximize the strength of your lights. LED lighting is the most efficient form of outdoor lighting as compared to fluorescent and halogen lights. Some solar landscape lighting systems require battery replacement about every two years.

To learn more about the different methods and degrees of going solar, talk to our Harrell Remodeling design and build team. We can help you decide which option will work best for your Bay Area home.

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