April 30, 2023

Faces Places & Voices of Poudre Valley REA – Darren Hein

Human Interest Stories

Let us introduce you to our member, Darren Hein. He’s the owner/operator of Hein Home Solutions and Northern Colorado Sales Representative for Skylight Specialists.

Darren talked to us about how to increase the natural lighting, ventilation, temperature management, and energy efficiency of your home or business.


By the age of 60, we require 2-3 times more light to see, however the health benefits of natural lighting are important for people of all ages. Skylights decrease the need for electric lighting during the day. But it’s important to consider how their placement and use could impact the amount of energy needed to heat and cool your home.

According to the US Department of Energy, “Because skylights are located on the roof, they can result in unwanted additional heat in summer and loss of heat from the inside of the home in the winter.”

It’s important to use high-quality products that utilize various glazing technologies to maximize your skylight’s energy efficiency. These technologies can include heat-absorbing tints, insulated glazing, low-emissivity coatings, and/or translucent insulation material between several glazing layers.

Here are some tips from the US Department of Energy on best-practices for how much solar heat gain enters your home through skylights.

  • Skylights on north-facing roofs provide fairly constant but cool illumination.
  • Those on east-facing roofs are great for maximizing light and solar heat gain in the morning.
  • Whereas skylights on west-facing roofs are better for afternoons.
  • “South-facing skylights provide the greatest potential for desirable winter passive solar heat gain than any other location, but often allow unwanted heat gain in the summer.”
  • The shade of deciduous trees can reduce unwanted solar heat gain.
  • Movable window coverings on the inside can reduce solar heat gaining the summer more than interior shades.

Letting heat in doesn’t have to be a bad thing – like for rooms that stay cool in the winter, bringing in natural sunlight to warm your space during the day could be a good thing. And that’s just one of the many small nuances Darren pointed out as we talked through some of the ways adding skylights can benefit homes and businesses.

But what is usually never a good thing is escaping conditioned air – whether that’s heated air in the winter or cooled in the summer – which leaves through your home’s insulated barrier. Roof insulation has an important role in moderating your home’s temperature and if not planned right, replacing roof insulation with a skylight can have a big impact to energy efficiency.

Quality products and the right placement play a huge part in the comfortability of, and ultimately the monthly energy bill for, your home.

Solar-powered, venting skylights can open to act as a passive air conditioner to pull warm air up through the open skylight and pull cool, fresh air throughout the rest of your home. There’s a “fresh-air function” that can automatically run periodically to open and release hot, trapped air. Darren explains that, “When using AC, you open up the skylight for about 15 minutes when the AC turns on. And instead of the AC working really hard to cool off all the hot air, it pushes it out of the house.” Then it closes to keep the cool air in

State-of-the-art skylights use Argon gas-filled glass panes to block potentially harmful ultraviolet rays, while allowing good light to enter your home. Built-in manual or solar-powered blinds with room-darkening and light-filtering options block heat from sunlight or provide softer, diffuse light when needed. Since skylights are installed on the roof, they provide natural light while protecting privacy; ideal for areas facing toward neighbors or in bathrooms.

Sun Tunnels

Sun tunnels are a way to bring in light, even at night with the addition of a Solar Night Light, without sacrificing insulation. For longer sun tunnels, rigid sheets of 2 in. thick extruded polystyrene foam can be a great choice, whereas spray foam can be used for shorter sun tunnels.

They may have a mirrored pipe or “light pipe” feature that uses a diffusing lens that mounts on or is recessed into the ceiling of the room below. Two considerations for sun tunnels is that they do not provide views or ventilation.

Sun tunnels can give life to spaces where the size or cost of a traditional skylight or roof window is impractical. Sun tunnels are great for interior rooms and hallways or even basement rooms without roof or window access. As mentioned earlier, some designs have solar night lights for emergency lighting for stairs, hallways, and entry ways – or for late-night bathroom visits.

Other Options

Solar attic fans can keep your home cooler by increasing active air flow during the of the day. ENERGY STAR recommends ensuring your attic is properly sealed. Otherwise, an attic fan could suck conditioned air up and out of the house, making your AC work harder by using more energy, leading to a higher summer energy bill.

Insulation upgrades help your attic space keep your home’s temperature comfortable year-round. According to the Department of Energy, you may want to consider adding or replacing loose-fill attic insulation if it measures less than 10 to 13 inches.

Solutions for Today & Tomorrow

The first thing Darren asks when he comes into a home is, ‘What is your goal here?” Whether it’s increased lighting, better airflow, a more open sense of space, or other need, Darren asks the right questions to ultimately design the best solution

“Our name is Hein Home Solutions because I offer the ideal solutions based on what homeowners need.”

With 25 years of experience in roofing, framing, and lighting, he understands the small details that can impact your needs. Location, light tracking, roof type, and even the color of your interior walls or countertops all factor into determining the right solution. It’s how Darren helps others live a more sustainable life by maximizing energy efficiency. The right system ensures you aren’t wasting materials or paying for what you don’t need. And long-term solutions pass efficiency and sustainability onto the next generation.

Darren left us with this: “I’m trying to save the world one skylight at a time.”

Want to Learn More?

Contact Darren Hein for questions or new construction consultations at heinhomesolutions@gmail.com or call 970.689.0674.

Get a quote from the Northern Office of Skylight Specialists at www.skylightspecialist.com or call 970.988.3622.