Window coverings and treatments can do more than just look good. The right drapes, shades and other window treatments help you manage your home’s temperatures, taking some of the load off your air conditioner and furnace. That means you’ll spend less to keep the Winston-Salem area’s summer heat at bay and enjoy lower winter cooling bills, too.
How Window Coverings and Treatments Help
In the average home, around 30 percent of summer heat gain and winter heat loss is due to the windows. To better control how much heat your windows gain or lose, you have plenty of options, including:
- Window films
Of all window coverings and treatments, drapes are one of the most effective for year-round temperature control and among the easiest to install. The right drapes can cut summer heat gain by up to 33 percent and winter heat loss by up to 10 percent. Drapes that work well in summer are also effective in winter. When choosing your drapes, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Choose closed-weave fabrics in colors that are neither dark nor light, such as tan.
- Look for thermal-backed drapes, which are lined with white plastic or silver insulating material.
- To minimize drafts, install the drapes as close to the window as possible and let the bottom touch the floor or a window sill.
- For even greater insulation, install the drapes in a way that allows you to seal the tops and sides. A cornice board blocks drafts at the top of your drapes and also gives the room a more finished appearance. Attaching Velco strips to your drapes and walls will let you tightly close the sides.
As with drapes, shades are a simple, budget-friendly way to control your indoor temperatures. Two types of shades are especially well suited to use in North Carolina’s climate: dual shades and solar shades.
Dual shades have one white high-reflectivity side and one dark heat-absorbent side. In summer, turning the white side out helps reflect heat away from your home. When winter arrives, you can reverse the shades to let the dark outer side absorb heat from the sun while the white side holds heat inside your home.
Solar shades are roller shades made with screen-like fabric that reduces heat gain and glare to varying degrees. The “openness factor” of a set of solar shades indicates how much light and heat it blocks, with a higher number indicating more light and heat blocked.
Interior and Exterior Blinds
If the look and convenience of interior blinds appeals to you and your main goal is to reduce heat gain, choose solar blinds, which are designed to reflect the sun’s rays. When fully closed, they can cut your heat gain by nearly half.
Exterior roller blinds made of wood, metal or vinyl are another option. Depending on the design, they may be manually operated or motorized, and operated from indoors or outdoors.
Awnings are among the most effective window coverings and treatments for reducing heat gain in a hot climate. On west-facing windows, they can cut heat gain by nearly 80 percent, and on south-facing windows by around 65 percent. This makes them more effective than interior blinds or shades and they won’t interfere with your view, either.
For the greatest sun protection, choose a tightly-woven fabric in an opaque, light color. If you’re concerned about storm damage, choose retractable awnings in a tough synthetic material such acrylic.
Plantation shutters are a common sight around North Carolina and with good reason. For defense against heat gain, these and other louvered shutters are a better choice than metal roll-down shutters. Solid shutters, on the other hand, offer protection from both summer heat and winter cold. Due to drainage considerations, exterior shutters should be professionally installed.
Silver high-reflectivity films can be helpful on east- and west-facing windows, but they also reduce daylight, interfere with visibility, block the sun’s warmth in winter and make windows harder to clean.
Low-emissivity (low-e) films offer a better alternative. The metallic coatings used in these films insulates your windows, reducing summer heat gain and winter heat loss, all while letting in light and allowing good visibility. They’re nearly invisible, so they won’t clash with any other window coverings and treatments you add.
If you’re looking for ways to heat and cool your home more efficiently, contact us at Logan Heating, Air Conditioning & Electric anywhere around Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Burlington, Clemmons, and elsewhere in Central North Carolina.
Written by Mark Hollingsworth
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