You take many steps towards an energy efficient home. You may start with ensuring that lights are turned off as you exit a room or shutting off the water while you brush your teeth. You use cold water rinse on your laundry and only run the washer and dishwasher when the load is full. You install weather-stripping around drafty doors and windows and spray foam insulation on exterior gaps on your house. However, have you considered your window treatments when attempting to lower your summer energy bill?
Window treatments are usually thought of only as means of beautifying one’s home. These purchases are usually made only with design and style in mind. Yet you can see a dramatic difference in your energy bill simply by installing the right covering for your windows. In fact, window treatments can even provide a tax credit.
Blinds, shades, and drapes, when properly used, can trap heat indoors during cold winter months and can also block out solar heat during the sunny days of summer. And they can do this all while still adding an elegant appeal to any room in your home.
Before making a decision on which window treatments look best for each room in your house, first gain a comprehensive understanding of how different styles can lower your energy costs.
Drapes are an inexpensive, yet effective option for cutting your summer electric bill. When properly hung, they can cover the top, sides, and bottom frame of a window, preventing hot air from entering your home through the glass pane and keeping cold air from escaping through it.
Thick, dark-colored fabrics are best for energy savings. They provide privacy control and room darkening benefits as well. However, if you want to enjoy the view or let in natural lighting, the drapes must be opened, at which point they become ineffective as a method of saving energy. Light-colored or sheer fabrics are also poor choices for blocking out solar heat.
Because of the variety of fabric textures, colors, and styles, draperies are able to match almost any decor and can be designed to fit any window shape or size.
Window films are an energy saving option that work best when combined with other types of window treatments. They can reduce heat gain during the summer months while providing
ventilation. Films control light and glare without affecting your view, and they are available in reflective styles which can maintain your privacy.
While films can offer a significant savings on your energy bill, they are more effective when combined with shades or blinds, particularly in climates where extreme heat or cold are common.
Window shades are a versatile option for insulating your home in both summer and winter months. In the winter, the blinds can be opened completely to allow in solar heat, but in the summer, you can adjust the shades to block the glare without impeding your view.
Shades are available in a myriad of designs to match your home’s personal style and are even available in exterior versions which protect your windows from the elements. Most types of shades open from the bottom up; however, you can also purchase shades that open top down. The best option for energy savings are roller or cellular shades. The design creates pockets that trap air against the window glass, stabilizing the temperature in your home.
Blinds are available in both interior and exterior styles, allowing you the ability to use them as interior decor for your windows or protection from the sun or rain for an outdoor patio area. They are available in vertical or horizontal types, providing extra control for reducing glare and heat gain to keep indoor temperatures comfortable year round.
Blinds are adjustable, so you can turn the slats to block glare or close them entirely for privacy. While they don’t provide much insulation, blinds do allow you to prevent solar heat from entering your home.
Shutters are most often used on a home’s exterior; however interior shutters are becoming more popular as an interior design trend. They offer a unique appearance to any room and are available in a variety of styles.
Shutters control both heat and glare while protecting your privacy at the same time. They are great insulators, reducing solar heat gain more than other window treatments, making them a popular choice in warm, sunny climates. Exterior shutters are a great option to protect against storm damage.
As technology has advanced, it has been applied to window treatment design. Motorization and automation features have made reducing your energy bill easier. Many brands have done away with unmanageable, dangerous cords. In the past, cords were a common and acceptable tool for raising and lowering blinds, but they have been proven highly unsafe, particularly in households with young children or pets. New window treatment designs have built the cord into the product, completely covering this bulky mechanism. In many treatments, the cord has been completely replaced with newer, more versatile alternatives.
You can look into window treatments that are motorized and work by flipping a switch on the wall or by pressing a button on a remote control. Some window coverings are operated through an app on your smartphone. They are programmable, allowing you to control when the shades open or close. This feature is especially helpful when you are attempting to decrease your energy costs. You can schedule each window treatment individually throughout your home. You can set your home’s east-facing windows to close at sunrise and then open them as the sun reaches its pinnacle, then schedule the windows on the western side of your home to close as the sun begins to set. You can effectively block out direct sunlight throughout the entire summer. You will see a reduction in the amount of time your air conditioner runs and a drop in your energy costs.