Operable Skylights

Good quality operable skylights are one of the best ways to keep homes cool. They allow warm air to escape from high ceiling locations and that in turn can pull cool air from shaded and cool areas into the house. Such convection action work like a fan but better:

  • They don't require a motor.
  • They don't use electricity.
  • They don't make noise.
  • They can add light to a dark area of the house.
  • And most homes can be retrofit with an operable skylight for less cost than an air conditioning unit for a single room.

I have them in my home, I use them all the time, I love them and I love to recommend them to people who's homes need cooling systems!

Here are a few tips:

  • The best location for such skylights is on the side opposite of the prevailing winds. This helps draw air out of the house.
  • A single skylight in the middle of the house can help cool the whole house.
  • If the house has two floors and an open staircase then a centrally located skylight in the 2nd floor hallway will work very well.
  • A home on a single story may require more than one operable skylight. It may not have less vertical space to create a good convection current.
  • An operable skylight in a bathroom can double as a moisture venting system. It is more tolerant of rain entry if the skylight is left wide open during a rain storm.
  • Size is not as important as location.
  • The best time to add an operable a skylight is when new roofing is installed or when the roofing is relatively new and flexible.
  • Most operable skylights are designed not to allow for rain entry when left partially open. We have an operable skylight at our cabin and leave it partially open from May till October - no problem.
  • Some manufacturers of operable skylights provide optional shading and screening systems.
  • Some fancy models open and close with small motors and can be programed with thermostats, rain detectors and all sorts of fancy equipment. (I prefer the long pole or crank.)
  • See the consult question and answers on Windows and Skylights.

and a note from a satisfied customer...

George -

Thank you so much for the suggestion of putting in operable skylights in our town home. They have absolutely saved us through the hot summer with the increased ventilation. With our tower of a house it really helps regulate the temperature. We end up having the bathroom skylight open almost all the time.

Thanks again for all the great advice! Shannon H

Article: 
Air Conditioning