As we head into the dead of winter, one of the most common requests we receive at Budget Blinds of Steamboat-Laramie is for recommendations on improving home energy conservation. More specifically, how to significantly assist in keeping customers’ homes warm in the winter – and cool in the summer– and at a lower cost.
Fortunately, there are several ways that window coverings can enhance energy conservation. Windows are an architectural feature of your home that allow for fresh air and sunshine. Unfortunately, homes can lose over 50% of their heat and cooling through their windows. This is especially true in winter months, when on average, people spend 59% more on their energy bills. Windows are not always properly insulated which can end up costing money through an increased energy bill. Having the proper energy-efficient window treatments can make windows look great, regulate indoor temperatures and provide multiple other benefits (privacy, glare reduction, etc.) all while lowering energy bills. Did you know that by updating a home with window coverings, it may be possible to lower recurring energy expenses by up to 30% depending on the specific products and how they are installed?
With colder weather here, many people are looking to their windows to help keep their home cozy and warm, shutting out biting winds and inclement weather. But it’s no secret that expanses of glass absorb the outside temperature and transfer it inside, so how can we best use new window coverings? One of the best performing products for energy conservation is cellular shades (sometimes referred to as honeycomb or accordion shades). Cellular shades are designed to have dead-air spaces – both within the ‘cells’ of the shade and between the back of the shade and the window -which increase their insulation by trapping warm air, helping to keep homes warm all winter long. Cellular shades can be custom-made to fit unique windows including arches and skylights. They are very versatile window covering with a variety of fabrics and colors. While most popular options are ‘single cell’ and ‘light filtering’ additional insulation value can be gained by increasing the number of cells (double or triple cell) and/or by changing to ‘blackout’ (blocks all light).
Roman Shades are another great choice for energy saving window coverings. Made from heavier fabrics –and often with liners on the back – Roman Shades trap in heat. The heavier the fabric and liners the better the insulation.With a wide selection of colors, prints and textures, Roman shades can meet the needs of any home décor.
For a different look still, energy conserving solution shutters (exterior and interior) are a consideration. Investing in shutters can be a major bonus to a homeowner, allowing them to keep in the warmth in the winter months or control a summer breeze by adjusting the louvers. Having exterior shutters adds another layer of protection to windows by shielding them from the cold weather. Best of all, exterior shutters add value to the home and upgrade the home’s curb appeal.
Interior shutters are beautiful window treatments that help with heat gain and loss. Shutters keep energy bills low because they work as an insulation shield by preventing cold drafts and unbearable heat from entering the home. They regulate the temperature, so it is not necessary to use a heater or air conditioner as much. Also, shutters provide extra security because they fully cover the window when closed but still allow an uninterrupted view when open.
Drapery on windows is like having the windows wrapped up in a blanket. They are designed for insulation because their heavier fabrics allow them to keep in the heat. The drapes add extra insulation against the cold, and in especially cold climates, the heavier the lining, the more energy-efficient they become. A traditionally popular style for windows and doors is full-length sheers with a heavier drape on top, often with a valance or other decorative top treatment. The sheers create soft, filtered light with low-level sun protection and privacy during the day. Adding an opaque drapery gives the option of complete privacy when the drapes are closed, as well as increased insulation due to the extra layer of fabric. During cold weather, drapery can reduce heat loss from a warm room up to 10%. Also, closing drapery at night and during the day can keep in the warmth. Another way drapery is energy saving is layering it with another window covering such as listed above to completely dress a window. It will keep in the heat and keep your rooms nice and toasty.
Consider layering window treatments. Just as an outfit with a jacket and scarf is warmer than a shirt, multiple window coverings provide additional insulation and protection for the home (and help to lower utility bills). All types of window blinds can be easily paired with additional treatments like fabric valances, cornice boxes, sheer curtains and drapery panels. Whether layering is for enhancing lifestyle with lavish design or for increasing insulation, layering drapes over blinds will help to keep the cold out and the warmth inside. Adding cellular shades behind curtains or drapes will provide a high level of insulation as the honeycomb cells are designed to keep air from entering or escaping. Installing floor-to-ceiling drapery panels over large window expanses of blinds or shutters will create an extra “wall” of insulation to keep rooms comfy and warm. These are just a couple of the many possibilities of layering.
Adding home automation is also a great way to conserve energy. Just as automated thermostats and lighting can be installed in homes, the same can be done for shades. Home automation goes beyond ‘motorization’ of window coverings – shades can be programmed to open/close at certain times of the day, raise/lower based on sensors or remotely from an app allowing homeowner to better control how light, heat & cold is managed at windows throughout the day. Individually any of the solutions described will have a positive impact on a home’s energy conservation but for maximum efficiency energy saving window coverings should be ‘layered’ and ‘automated’. Not only will energy and money be saved but it will result in a more beautiful and modernized home.