Air conditioning feels wonderful when the temperature rises, but running it constantly can lead to high power bills. The solution is to let the sunshine in—but at a cost-effective level that won’t affect your utility bills.
One of the best ways to save money is to block out some of the sunlight that enters your home through windows. Covering windows with curtains, shades, shutters, or blinds that shield the sun’s heat can reduce heat gain and minimize your utility bills instantly.
Here are five ways to block the sun with energy-efficient window coverings:
1. Awnings and Window Boxes
The sun’s heat and glare can be blocked with window awnings, which is something you can install yourself.
According to the Department of Energy (DOE), window awnings can reduce your home’s solar heat gain by a substantial amount. In fact, it can reduce up to 65 percent on south-facing windows and 77 percent on west-facing windows. During winter, you can roll up retractable awnings to let the sun warm your house.
Roller shades and roman shades offer the best insulation and air-sealing of all soft window treatments. Install roller shades as close to the window itself as possible while still allowing the window to open and close.
Furthermore, reversible roller shades can be switched with the seasons, with the white side reflecting heat in summer and the dark side keeping the heat in during winter months. With roman shades mounted on tracks running across windows, simply pull them down to fully cover the window. You can also improve energy efficiency if you choose layered versions with multiple layers of fiber batting.
3. Curtains and Drapes
Curtains and drapes are also effective ways to keep the heat out. Choose opaque curtains and drapes to keep the sun from heating up your home. For added insulation, buy curtains and drapes with an insulating layer with a noise-reduction feature.
The ability of curtains (with white plastic backing for maximum effect) to reduce heat gain depends on the fabric type. An average-sized window can be covered using drapes that are separated by at least 60 inches from each side of the window.
The drapes should be hung along the outer edge of the curtain rod and overlapping in the middle to create a layered look. If desired, drapes can be attached by Velcro strips running along the top of the curtain rod.
Shutters offer the same benefits as curtains and drapes but are less adaptable to window frames. They must be custom-made for windows, although you may be able to find them at salvage and architectural salvage shops.
On the plus side, custom-made shutters can replace a window completely, so you don’t have to deal with the problem of air leaks.
5. Solar Shades
Solar shades are special materials that are attached to windows to block the heat of the sun. Don’t confuse them with vinyl window blinds as they can keep the sun’s heat out even when they are down. Typically, they are made of polyester or polyester-cotton blends which are durable and opaque to block the sun’s harmful UV rays.
6. Reflective Film
If you live in a region with long cooling seasons, a window film is the best choice. It has three layers—an adhesive layer, a polyester film layer, and a scratch-resistant coating.
Some of the film’s functions are blocking solar heat gain in the summer and radiant heat gain during the winter, reducing glare and ultraviolet exposure, and blocking the sun from fading artwork, furniture, and carpeting.
In addition, low e-window films are emerging as an option that can help reduce your energy costs. The effectiveness of window film can vary, depending on where it is installed on your home’s windows.
East- and west-facing windows benefit from reflective film mostly because of their higher potential for heat gain. Keep in mind that the effectiveness of window film also depends on its thickness.
There are many different ways to block out the sun. Just remember that whatever window coverings you use must allow your windows to open and close. As long as you meet that minimum requirement, track your energy use to see how your sunny-blocking strategies are working—and think about retrofitting your windows with other energy-saving improvements.
Do you need blinds and shutters from Las Vegas? At East-West Blinds & Shutters, we create custom window blinds, shutters, and shades from high-quality materials. Contact us today!