More often than not, homeowners choose aesthetics or form over functionality when dressing the windows of their homes. This is understandable because most homeowners are primarily setting out to accomplish the two most basic purposes of window treatments, privacy and beautification. However, beyond the two basics of window treatments, homeowners commonly fail to consider energy savings, maximum functionality, light distribution, and the overall longevity of their window treatments. But when the ideal window treatments are selected and installed properly, their function surpasses the two basics of privacy and beautification by lowering monthly energy bills and drastically limiting wear and tear on the treatments themselves.
With great emphasis on proper installation, the Department of Energy actually lists appropriately selected and installed window shades and coverings as the most effective and simplest way to save energy when it comes to window treatments. Proper installation includes mounting window coverings “as close to the glass as possible” and that the edges of the coverings are to meet up with the walls on both sides of the window. This ensures a tight seal that drastically minimizes heat gain as well as heat loss within the home’s interior. It should be pointed-out that the east- and west-facing windows are of particular importance because of their orientation to prolonged direct sunlight.
Arguably, the best choice in window treatments for energy efficiency are triple-cell insulating cellular (honeycomb) shades. Cellular shades are available from several manufacturers and come in two cell or three cell designs. In a basic sense, these shades incorporate a series of horizontal honeycomb shaped tubes stacked vertically to make up the blinds. The honeycomb shaped tubes provide a dead air space barrier within them that increase their insulating capacity. The honeycomb shape allows the tube structures of the shades to collapse into one another, thus allowing the shades to be drawn open and closed. Cellular shades are sometimes also referred to as pleated shades. Aside from cellular shades, other excellent insulated window treatments include shutters, exterior shades, and drapes.If you should choose drapes to dress your windows, there are several factors to consider that will directly impact the drapes efficiency. Because of these factors, and an almost limitless variety of drapes on the market, the energy efficiency of drapes becomes hard to generalize.
Examples of these factors include fabric type (such as closed or open weave), thick fabric versus thin, and the color of the fabric. Darker fabric will absorb the sun’s energy bringing heat into the home, whereas lighter colored fabric will deflect the sun’s energy, keeping the home’s interior cooler. It’s also worth noting that when properly selected and installed, conventional draperies can cut the heat loss from a warm room by up to 10 percent when drawn during cold weather. That said, closing draperies at night during the winter months will keep heat in the home.
Homeowners should also be advised that doors with windows need to be addressed in regards to energy efficiency just as the home’s wall windows are. French doors and sliding glass doors can be a huge problem area when it comes to a home’s energy efficiency if they lack sufficient and properly installed window coverings. Though a wide array of window coverings can be applied to french doors, there are physical factors that should be considered when selecting the right window treatment.
French doors often have protruding decorative handles and the functionality of blinds in combination with french doors can oftentimes be compromised. Shallow blinds provide a practical solution to this problem as they fit nicely between the door and decorative handles. Hold down brackets can also be mounted to hold the bottom of the blinds in place to prevent movement when the door is being utilized. As for sliding glass doors, a popular trend is the use of vertical blinds. However, there are other alternatives to vertical blinds for sliding glass doors such as panel track blinds which can be mounted to the inside or outside of the door frame or alternately they can be mounted on the ceiling.
Another alternative is ripple fold drapery (similar to panel track blinds) which glide along a track that can be mounted to the wall or ceiling. Additionally, ripple fold drapery glides can be motorized and controlled remotely for convenience and the drapery itself is available in a wide array of materials and colors.
When choosing energy saving window treatments for your home or business, there are plenty of options to choose from regarding installation and design companies. Consider the following:
By doing your research, you will find that there are cost effective ways to dress your windows up while also lowering your energy bills. Don’t go for the first offer that pops up. Ask your friends and family who they use for their window coverings. With a little time, and a lot of patience, you will find the perfect window covering solution for your personal tastes and, of course, for your wallet.