Good news: Energy-efficient window coverings do exist to combat summer heat! Keeping your home cooler in hot summers is possible when you determine how insulated existing windows are, and then do what’s humanly possible to keep heat outside. By incorporating blinds, drapes and curtains and awnings into your home’s décor, you can prevent the sun’s UV rays from penetrating your living space.
Just by themselves, window coverings naturally add another layer of protection and insulation. So just having something to block windows puts you a step ahead. However, certain window covering are more insulating than others.
Avoid sheer fabrics and any colors that are too light during summers if you’re concerned about seeping warmth. Keeping coverings or curtains drawn as often as possible will keep out much of the heat.
Window blinds — vertical or horizontal slat-type — are more effective at reducing summer heat gain than winter heat loss, according to U.S. Department of Energy sources. For example, when interior blinds are completely closed and lowered on a sunny window, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45 percent. They also can be adjusted to block and reflect direct sunlight onto a light-colored ceiling, which will diffuse the light without much heat or glare.
During summer days, be sure to close draperies on windows receiving direct sunlight to prevent noticeable heat gain. Studies demonstrate that medium-colored draperies with white-plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33 percent.
To reduce heat exchange or convection, DOE experts recommend hanging draperies as close to windows as possible, falling all the way to the windowsill or floor. For maximum effectiveness, a cornice at the top of a drapery can be installed, or place the drapery against the ceiling. Then seal the drapery at both sides, as best as possible, and overlap it in the center to reduce heat exchange up to 25 percent.
Two draperies hung together will create a tighter air space than just one drapery. One advantage is that the room-side drapery will maintain around the same temperature as the interior space, adding to a room’s comfort.
To get the most efficient coverings, take note of the R-value listed for window treatments. The R-value measures the insulation that is provided — meaning the higher the R-value, the more the insulation provided. This R-value number indicates a window’s ability to prevent heat loss or exchange. So the higher the number, the better a window will stand up to the elements, keeping your home more comfortable and efficient. Curtains often are more cost-effective way to raise your “R-value” prevention.
An example of one of our great energy-efficient solutions is Hunter Douglas’s Duette Architella™ Collection. This specific product features a patented design, which provides a very high R-value. The average R-value for semi-opaque fabrics is 3.30, but this Hunter Douglas collection has an average R-value for the semi-opaque fabrics of 5.48 in the ¾” pleat, 6.02 in the ¼” pleat. If you choose to have opaque fabrics as opposed to semi-opaque, the average R-value for the opaque fabrics are 7.22 in the 1 ¼” pleat and 7.73 in the ¾” pleat.
One of the best ways to fight the summer’s high temperatures is through blackout drapes. The heavy fabrics of blackouts prevent incoming sunlight, leaving rooms in cooler darkness. Full drapery with linings can amount to huge energy savings, but may feel too “heavy” for everyone. Don’t fret, because there are other alternatives.
For greater efficiency, use dual shades, which are highly reflective (white) on one side and heat absorbing (dark) on the other side. These shades can be reversed with the seasons. The reflective surface should always face the warmest side: outward during the cooling season and inward during the heating season, and they need to be drawn all day to be effective.
Quilted roller shades and some types of Roman shades feature several layers of fiber batting and sealed edges. These shades act as both insulation and air barrier, and control air infiltration more effectively than other soft window treatments.
A cellular shade is also a good option. This is not heavy, like a full drapery. And, cellular shades come in varying densities of cells. As of 1996, there were only two sizes. Now, many companies offer a lot more in sizing and the construction is even better with layering within the cells. Cellular shades come in opaque and semi opaque. Many companies also offer tracking systems on the side to let the cellular material go up and down, creating a tighter fit for the light gaps and energy savings.
Another option is the plantation shutter. Plantation shutters are beautiful at which to look, while also being energy-efficient. Plus, when fully closed, they really darken a room, which is a “hidden feature” about which many people do not think.
An added benefit of motorized blinds and shades is that some are equipped with sun sensors, which will automatically re-adjust treatments throughout the day to respond to shifting light levels.
Experienced decorators can assist you with exploring possibilities, and our team will bring actual samples to your home. We’re always ready to discuss pros and cons of any options.