Improving your home’s insulation isn’t limited to caulking and weather-stripping and doesn’t have to mean replacing all your windows. Conserving energy can be as simple as choosing the right energy-efficient window coverings.
Adding new window treatments, like curtains, awnings, and draperies, can improve energy conservation and help save on monthly electricity plans. Gexa’s guide looks at the different types of energy-efficient window treatments and their benefits to help you decide which options are right for your home.
The Benefits of Window Coverings
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, about 30% of a home’s heating energy is lost through the windows. Taking the time to invest in and properly install energy-efficient window coverings could result in huge energy savings and reduce monthly bills while also making your home and its inhabitants more comfortable.
Operable window coverings allow you to choose when to let sunlight in or keep it out, reducing glare and creating privacy when you need it. In addition to their energy-saving benefits, window coverings can improve the aesthetics of your home, increasing the value for future resale. When paired with energy-efficient windows, the result is a properly insulated and energy-efficient home.
Insulated Cellular Shades
Energy efficiency cellular shades are designed to fold up, accordion-like, usually at the top of the window, though some are adjusted from the top or bottom. Insulated cellular shades feature one to three layers designed in honeycomb cross-sections. These serve as insulators, reducing the conduction of heat through the window.
Insulated cellular shades are a smart choice if you’re looking for energy savings as they can reduce heat loss through windows by 40% or more during heating seasons and reduce heat gain by up to 60% in cooling seasons. These shades also provide privacy and comfort through temperature control.
One of the less common energy-efficient window coverings is a window quilt, which is opened by rolling the quilted material up and closed by rolling it down. Window quilts are designed to fit tightly against the window trim, either on a track or attached with Velcro or snaps.
While these window covering options cost less than many others, they are more complex to operate and let very little daylight through when closed.
Rollers & Roman Shades
If you’re looking for an inexpensive window covering to make your home more energy efficient, you may be interested in roller shades. To operate, you raise and lower from a roller bar placed at the top of the window, hence the name. Roman shades are a similar option, but these coverings stack in a series of folds when raised.
Both roller shades and roman shades are available in a wide variety of colors and fabrics, making them easy to match to your current room décor. Unfortunately, these window coverings provide only minimal insulation and work best for privacy and blocking sunlight from rooms.
Vertical or horizontal slatted blinds, also known as louvered blinds, can help reduce heat gain in the summer while allowing in some natural light. However, because of their slatted design, these window coverings make controlling heat loss in the winter more of a challenge.
One of the main benefits of louvered blinds is that you can easily adjust the slats to control glare and the amount of sunlight that enters the room. These energy-efficient blinds can also reduce heat gain when fully closed.
Curtains & Drapes
For a stylish option, energy-saving curtains and drapes are available in almost any fabric or color. In general, curtains are sized to fit the window, while drapes reach to the floor.
Hang energy-efficient curtains as close to windows as possible to help keep warm air inside. When properly installed, these window coverings can increase the comfort of your home while reducing heat loss by as much as 10%. You can also purchase insulated window curtains or energy-efficient thermal curtains for additional thermal comfort and heat loss prevention.
If you don’t want to limit the natural light coming through your window, consider installing window films, which are applied directly to the surface of the glass. Window films are designed to prevent heat gain and protect against glare and UV exposure.
Some window films also feature tints to offer a sense of security and privacy while limiting heat gain. These energy-efficient window coverings are a good option if you wish to protect furniture or artwork from sun exposure or if your windows are an unusual size that is difficult to fit with other window treatments.
Exterior Shutters & Shades
Energy-efficient window treatments aren’t limited to the inside of your home. Exterior options, like shutters and shades, can have a significant impact on heat loss or gain through windows. Most exterior shutters and shades are manually operated, but some have controls inside the home for easier use.
Exterior shades are generally mounted above the window and can be either fully or partially raised or lowered, providing shade, privacy, and security, and helping you save on your electricity bill.
Installed on the exterior of a home, awnings are designed to shade windows or outdoor patios from the heat of the sun. These coverings can be either fixed or retractable and can reduce heat gain in the summertime by as much as 77%.
While awnings used to be made of metal or canvas, today they are often made from polyvinyl laminate materials designed to be water-repellent and durable.
Regardless of the window covering you choose, you could enjoy savings on your monthly electricity bills and energy conservation. You can even combine multiple window treatments to improve your home’s insulation and keep your entire house more comfortable.
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