The days are gone when a loft was regarded as a dark hole you rarely dared venture into. To use it for valuable extra storage, though, you’ll need to see where you’re going when you’re up there. You could install electric lighting, of course, but natural light is not only more pleasant and more energy efficient, it also provides better illumination.
Roof lights — windows let in flush to the roof — have become common since Velux popularised them in the 1970s. But how can you make your roof window even more useful? Here are a few ideas.
One of the problems of roof lights has always been that, in summer, they focus the sunlight down and can make the loft space unbearably hot. There are two highly effective ways of counteracting this:
• Physically shade the window, either by a brise soleil structure of fixed panels or by awnings that can be removed when necessary. Either will keep out the overhead sun of midsummer while allowing the loft to receive evening or winter sun from a lower angle.
• Use specialist glass that either reflects the sun or has a g factor which reduces the glare to 30% of the level admitted by ordinary glass.
Use Your Roof Window as a Fire Escape
Although you’re unlikely to be spending a lot of time in your loft, there’s still the remote possibility of being caught up there by a fire. If this happened, you’d need to get down the loft ladder and the staircase to escape.
An effective solution would be to install a large, top-hung pivot roof light low enough down to access and link it with a fire escape ladder. This could even offer an alternative escape route if you’re trapped by fire on the upper floor.
Roof Windows in a Conservation Building
If your home is a listed building or in a conservation area, permission is likely to be denied to alter the roof line. Older-style windows such as dormers are unlikely to be approved since they change the roof line dramatically. However, roof lights are another matter.
Besides being flush to the roof, if roof lights are made of steel they provide an unobtrusive and slender section. This will enable you to let as much natural light as you need into your loft without spoiling the look of the outside or risking permission being refused.
These are just a few of the ideas you can apply to your roof windows in 2018. Feel free to give us a call if you want to discuss these or other options.