Different Types of Window Treatments For Energy Savings
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that up to 35 percent of energy from gas and electricity can be lost through your home’s windows. Older, drafty windows can let in cold air during the winter and bright sunlight in the summer, causing you to crank up your heating or air conditioning and making your utility bills skyrocket. If you can’t afford brand new windows, adding energy-saving window treatments is an affordable way to keep your energy costs low during any season.
Lower Your Heating and Cooling Bills With the Right Window Treatments
With the many varieties of window treatments available, you might not know which treatments are right for you. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Energy tests and certifies energy-saving window treatments to make it easier to find the most efficient treatments for your home. The energy-saving performance of different types of window treatments is based on heat gain, heat loss, solar gain or the amount of sunlight transmitted through the window — either through the glass or the frames. Installing the right window treatments in your home can also prevent heat gain and loss by anywhere from 25 to 77 percent. As a result, you can turn down your heat and air conditioning and potentially save hundreds on your monthly energy bills.
The insulating properties of energy-efficient window coverings are measured in “R-values.” Window treatments with higher R-values provide more effective insulation that can help keep heat or cold from escaping through your windows. R-values measure each window treatment’s thickness and density, as well as the type of insulation it uses. If your home has older, less efficient windows, insulating window treatments with high R-values will work best to help conserve energy and save you money.
Energy-efficient window coverings are also affordable, and some can even earn you a credit on your annual income taxes. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), homeowners can receive a credit for 10 percent of the cost of certain qualified energy-saving home improvements up to a lifetime limit of $500. These improvements include updated window treatments, as well as new windows, doors, insulation, and energy-efficient appliances like water heaters and heating and air conditioning systems.
If you’re looking for the most effective choices for keeping your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, browse the options below.
Drapes and Curtains
Drapes and curtains are probably the most affordable window treatments that can help insulate your home and lower your energy bills. They’re also the easiest to install. Simple medium-colored drapes with white plastic backings can reduce heat gains in the summer by up to 33 percent.
Place the white plastic panel on the outside of the drapes to reflect sunlight and keep out the heat. The pleats and folds in the drapes can also help trap heat and keep it from warming up your home. To maximize the efficiency of your drapes in the summertime, close them during the day when the sun is shining brightly through your windows. Then, open them at night when the sun is down and the air is cooler.
In the colder winter months, most conventional drapes can reduce heat loss by up to 10 percent. Make sure you use drapes that are made of heavy material instead of sheer panels, which can let cold air through. The best drapes for reducing heat loss have an insulating thermal lining. These have R-values of between R-3 and R-5. Look for drapes with a bump inside, or an extra layer of heavy material between the outside fabric and the inside lining. This adds extra insulation against the cold winter weather.
For even better protection from the cold, seal your drapes on the sides and bottoms with fastening or magnetic tape. This can help reduce heat loss by up to 25 percent. Floor to ceiling drapes are best for creating a seal that keeps out the cold. Be sure to install your drapes as close to your windows as possible for the best insulation throughout the colder months.
Blackout curtains not only help conserve energy, but they also keep out light and noise. Some brands of blackout curtains can block up to 99 percent of light. These days, blackout curtains can reduce glare on your TV or computer screen, and they can also help you sleep more soundly. They are especially helpful for people who work at night and sleep during the day. Some blackout curtains can also block up to 40 percent of noise, so your home can stay quiet and comfortable.
But how do blackout curtains save energy? Because they block out light, blackout curtains can keep bright sunlight from shining through your windows, which can keep your home cool in the summertime. Like conventional drapes and curtains, blackout curtains can also prevent heat loss in the winter by up to 25 percent.
Blinds are better at reducing solar and heat gain in the summer than heat loss in the winter. Highly reflective blackout blinds have been found to reduce heat gain by about 45 percent. The most reflective blinds are either white or close to white in color. Darker colored blinds absorb heat instead of reflecting it, which can warm up your home on hot summer days.
The horizontal or vertical slats in blinds also give you the flexibility to open or close them as needed. You can adjust the slats to let in light and air as you please. In the summer, it’s best to keep your blinds closed during the day time to help keep out sunlight and heat. As with drapes, be sure to install your blinds as close to your windows as possible for the best protection from heat and sunlight. Ideally, blinds should be installed inside your window frames rather than above them.
In the winter, blinds don’t do much to keep out the cold, unless they’re a darker color that absorbs heat from the sun. It’s best to combine light, reflective blinds with thermal-lined drapes or blackout curtains to keep your home comfortable all year round.
Shades are the most effective window treatments for saving on energy costs. The efficiency of shades depends on their type. Honeycomb shades, also known as cellular shades, are some of the most efficient insulating shades, with R-values of between R-2 and R-5. Some honeycomb shades even have R-values of up to R-8. The best shades can help reduce solar and heat gain in the summertime by up to 70 percent.
Honeycomb or cellular shades provide energy savings by trapping air in individual cells, creating an effective barrier between the temperature outside and the temperature inside your home. The more layers of cells in a honeycomb shade, the better they will insulate your home. Triple cell shades provide the best insulation, but even single cell shades will greatly reduce heat loss and gain throughout the year. Installing honeycomb blinds on every window in your home could even help you save up to 25 percent on your utility bills. Remember to install your shades as close to your windows as possible, preferably inside the window frames, for maximum efficiency.
Honeycomb shades can also compress to less than two inches, which makes it easy to open up your shades and let light and air in through the windows. As with blinds and drapes, it’s best to open up your shades to let sunlight in on winter days, and close them at night. In the summer, keep your shades closed during the day and open them at night to let in the cool air.
For extra protection from the heat and cold, look for double-sided cellular shades, which are a light color on one side and a dark color on the opposite side. The light side reflects heat and is ideal for use in the summertime. The darker side absorbs heat and can help warm up your home in the colder winter weather. Simply flip the shades to the right side for each season. The best double-sided shades feature highly-reflective material on the light side.
Shutters are much more effective at reducing heat than cold, which makes them popular in warmer climates. They also have the added benefit of preventing storm damage and other environmental factors. Shutters can completely block out sunlight, helping to keep your home cool in warmer weather. You also have the ability to open and close them whenever you choose. They help block the transfer of heat through air movement, which creates a strong barrier between the outside temperature and the temperature inside your home.
Wooden plantation shutters provide insulating R-values between R-2.77 and R-3.17. Vinyl shutters also offer some insulation, but wooden shutters work much better. Wooden shutters made from composite materials can be just as effective as honeycomb shades at keeping out the heat. For the best protection from the heat and storm damage, install wooden shutters outside of your windows instead of inside.
Window films are adhesive plastic coverings that can be applied directly to the glass in your windows. They are more effective at blocking out heat and sunlight in the summertime than reducing heat loss in the winter. The most effective type of window film is called “low-e” window film. It works by reflecting sunlight and preventing heat absorption through the window glass.
In the summer, low-e window film can reduce solar and heat gain by up to 70 percent. Window film is best used on windows which are not made with low-e glass. If your windows already feature low-e glass, adding low-e window film will not provide many insulation benefits.
In colder weather, low-e window film can reduce heat loss by up to 50 percent. However, because window film only covers the window glass, heat can still escape through the window frames. If you have old, drafty windows, window film won’t provide much protection from the cold. For this reason, it’s best to install window film along with other energy-saving window treatments, such as shades, drapes, blinds or shutters.
Unlike other energy-saving window treatments, window films are transparent, so they allow you to see through the windows and let sunlight in without obstruction. Window films can also add some decorative flair to your windows. Many films come in different designs, colors and textures to complement your home’s décor. For example, a crackle textured window film can add a vintage touch to a window.
How to Get Started
If you want to save money on your monthly energy bills, installing new window treatments is an easy, affordable option. Consider the weather and average temperatures in your area — as well as the types of windows in your home and the style of your home’s décor — before deciding on the type of energy-efficient window treatments you would like to install. You might want to combine multiple window treatments for maximum efficiency and comfort. For example, combining honeycomb shades with thermal lined drapes can add extra protection against cold weather, while combining plantation shutters with low-e window film can keep your home extra cool in the summer.
For an easy way to find the perfect energy-saving window treatments, browse the selection at ZebraBlinds.com. We have a wide selection of high-quality, energy-efficient drapes, blinds, shades and shutters at excellent prices. Each window treatment can be customized to fit the specific needs of your home and your family. With free quotes, free shipping and free extended replacement warranties, you’ll get the best service and highest quality window treatments from Zebra Blinds. Not only that, but you’ll also save hundreds in monthly energy costs, and maybe even qualify for an annual income tax credit.
To start looking for the right energy-saving window treatments for your home, visit ZebraBlinds.com today, or call Zebra Blinds toll free at 1-866-881-8682. Our window treatment experts are ready to help you lower your energy costs and keep your home comfortable all year long.