Teresa from Hershey's blog

Improve House Lighting with Solar Tubes

  • Posted on: 6 November 2019
  • By: Teresa from Hershey

A solar tube is an odd thing to see in the wild. A skylight is obvious: it’s a big hole in your roof framed out like a window that lets sunlight pour in while excluding the rest of the great outdoors. Skylights tend to be large; several square feet or more. All that glass means a whole lot of free sunlight can come flooding in to light the room below.

A solar tube looks so small that it asks a question: How can a glass pane the size of a large dinner plate let in enough light to make it worth cutting a hole in your roof? And there is the fact the tube, which looks like an oversized dryer vent, ensures that the light has to travel a long way from your rooftop, through your attic, and thence into the room below. Surely light must be lost on the journey to the glass dinner plate set into your ceiling.

So the solar tube does seem questionable. They are expensive, need professional installation if you don’t want your roof to leak, and they don’t seem to offer nearly as much light as a skylight would.

In practice, they are tremendously useful.

Daylighting - Free Energy From The Sun

  • Posted on: 9 October 2019
  • By: Teresa from Hershey

What is daylighting?

Daylighting is an architectural term. It means designing a building to let natural sunlight into a building rather than keeping it outside and having to compensate by using artificial lighting. Since I’m not an architect, I’ll stick with basic information that I’ve learned and applied in my own home. Electricity costs good money so I’m always looking for ways to spend less. Daylighting isn’t just windows. It’s everything that lets in light, enhances light, and reflects light to where you want it. Paying attention to your daylighting can allow you to maximize free, healthy sunshine while lowering your energy bills.

Paying attention to how and where the sun comes inside also benefits you in August when you want to keep it outside, repelling the heat and letting you cool your house more effectively. This essay covers some of those ways.

We’ll start with getting the sunshine inside in the first place. In addition to regular windows, other methods include door windows, skylights, solar tubes, and specialized windows such as interior windows (placed on dividing walls between rooms), transoms (the window over top of the door, both internal and external), and sidelights (the window, usually fixed glass, on one or both sides of the door). There are also light shafts (leading to below grade spaces) and basement window wells.

Keeping Your Writing Space Warm

  • Posted on: 4 September 2019
  • By: Teresa from Hershey

I think a lot about resilience and sustainability and how to do things better. Here’s something we (me and my dear husband) did recently that may help you. I started this particular project back in June of 2018 when I reviewed my home heating bills for the 2017/2018 winter. I was horrified. It wasn’t that cold of a winter here in central PA; we have endured much colder ones. We burned 355.7 gallons of home heating oil at $3.31 per gallon. We spent $1,177.22 to heat our 2,000-square-foot house. This is the most oil we’ve burned since the 2003/2004 winter when we burned 392 gallons. Back then, oil was $1.45 a gallon, costing us $567.21.

I shivered through that entire winter at my writing desk located in the coldest corner of our living room. I had to do something to improve my situation for future winters and it sure wasn't going to be sending more money to Keystone Heating Oil.