Windows are known holes of energy inefficiency in the home, accounting for 25-40% of heating and cooling costs depending on the window type and age of the home according the Department of Energy. Even homes with insulated glass units (double/triple pane windows) offer opportunities for improvement, with window treatments like insulated curtains and blinds offering much more than an aesthetic lift.
Before Choosing ‘the Prettiest’ Window Treatments, Uncover How They Work
In addition to enhancing ambiance and providing privacy and shade, window décor can help you maximize the performance of the insulated glass units throughout your home. In fact, in conjunction with outdoor shutters and awnings, the right window treatment could give your heating system a tremendous efficiency boost, keeping hundreds of dollars in your pocket and ensuring a comfy, cozy home this winter season.
Which Window Coverings Save the Most Energy?
An insulator and an air barrier, thermal window shades are an insulator and air barrier, and must be mounted as close to the glass as possible to maintain a sealed space, maximizing insulating power. Shades should be raised during the day in the winter to take advantage of the sun’s warmth, then lowered in the evening to prevent heat loss. Dual shades (white on one side, dark on the other) maximize efficiency when changed with the season, with dark surfaces providing added heat absorption during winter months. Quilted options maximize insulating effects.
- Pleated or Cellular Shades
Cellular window shades are the most efficient windows coverings you can buy. Using a series of cell pockets to trap air surrounding your windows, these energy efficient window shades keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Available in many colors including child-safe, cordless options, they are among the most popular shades on the market. Capacity varies by pleat size and number of cell layers. For superior performance, opt for larger pleat sizes (which trap more air) and the maximum number of layers. Though price rises accordingly from single to double and triple cell shade varieties, these coverings can greatly reduce your energy bill.
Among the most common insulated window coverings, homeowners often choose drapes for their affordability and classic style. Though even non-insulated varieties offer some protection, thermal lined options with a tighter weave enhance energy savings. Like shades, in the winter drapes should be opened with sunlight, and closed in the evenings. To enhance performance, they should be hung as close to windows as possible, reaching to lie on the windowsill or floor, and stretching to the ceiling. Panels should be sufficient so as to overlap and seal in the center. Velcro and magnets/magnetic tape can enhance this seal, which when properly done, can reduce heat loss up to 25%.
- Insulated Panels
Insulated window panels or pop-in shutters are typically comprised of rigid foam board insulation, offering insulating R-values in the 3.8-7 range. They can be homemade or purchased as a kit. To maximize performance, panels must be constructed so that edges fit tightly into the window frame. They don’t require hardware or holes, but seal with only Velcro or magnetic tape. (Don’t forget, these require a safe storage space when not in use.)
Horizontal and vertical blinds, though effective at reducing summer heat gain, offer minimal protection against winter heat loss due to the multitudinous openings of the slats.
- High-Reflectivity Films
These guard against summer heat gain, but block the sun’s warmth in the winter.
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