Tricks to Beat the Heat
With summer at its peak, the air conditioning is typically on full blast owing to unbearable temperatures. If you’re not a fan of electricity bills that reach the floor, smart window treatments are the way to go. It is said that around 40% of the heat gained is through the windows of a house. The intention of instaling window treatments is to prevent undesirable heat gain in the house altogether, rather than to treat it once it enters, which is what the air conditioner is designed to do. Another thing about leaving your windows “unguarded” is that, like the possibility of excessive heat gain, you lose around 50% of your air condition’s cooling efforts. So you can see how window treatments like shades, blinds and shutters can go a long way in making your house summer-friendly, not to mention the conveniently reduced electricity bill. The beauty of such window treatments is the variety of designs, textures, and fabrics with their respective functionalities for different spaces, requirements, temperatures, etc.
Energy Savers – Cellular Shades
Let’s start off with one of the most energy efficient types of Shades – Cellular shades. These shades stand out for their unique design that looks like hollow pipes stacked one on top of the other. From the side, the hollow, hexagonal-shaped openings resemble honeycombs. Owing to their structural composition that form air pockets to trap air that insulate against the summer heat, these shades are an optimum solution. They come in different fabrics with different cell sizes improve their resourcefulness. For your summer needs, there are translucent, light filtering fabrics that block the harmful UV rays and glare, at the same time, allowing you a decent view of the outside.
If further darkening is required, one can opt for room darkening shades with a higher opacity that allow a certain amount of light in, blocking out a large quantity of heat. There are also blackout shades that have the maximum amount of opacity, blocking out 100% of the sun. These shades are recommended for bedrooms as they block the disturbing summer sun during the day, in addition to being the unerringly useful for those nightshift workers that need their rejuvenating sleep during the day; and for media rooms, to cut off ambient light to provide the best AV experience. When buying cellular shades you can opt for a larger cell size that means bigger air pockets, with up to two layers of cells that allow even better thermal and sound insulation. One of the leading brands in window treatments, Graber, has come up with an innovation called the Cocoon Double Cell fabric that is designed to deliver the ultimate insulation to your window. The Cocoon Double Cell fabric has a metallized film called Mylar sandwiched between two layers of fabric. This way you have the luxury of choosing lighter colours for your blackout shades.
Since cellular shades block out a considerable amount of heat, they reduce the load on the air conditioning system. But the catch is these shades have to be pulled down throughout the day to allow it to work wonders. In this case, one can opt for blinds, which when open at certain angles, let light in and reflects the heat of windows giving you control over light and ventilation. When completely closed and lowered on a sunny day, they can reflect up to 45% of the heat. To increase its efficiency, blinds also come with a solar reflective coating that reflects up to 70% of solar radiation. Another trick is to angle the slats such that it reflects sun rays towards the ceiling, given that the ceiling is light coloured thus diffusing the rays, reducing heat and glare. You can also use exterior solar shades to block the sun before it hits the window panes.
One can opt for dual shades that have a lighter colour on one side and a darker colour on the other such that the lighter side, preferably white, reflects light and the darker side absorbs light. The shades can be turned as per the season such that the reflective side always faces the warmer side, i.e. outward during summer and inward during winter. You can also get motorized dual roller shades that are operated by a remote control.
Whichever type of shading you opt for, ensure that they are installed as close as possible to the window so that the sides of the shades hang tightly to the window frame, forming an air pocket between the shades and the window, improving insulation. Apart from merely installing window treatments, a smart way to go about it would be to consider the direction and movement of the sun during summer. During summer, attention must be given to east and west facing windows. One can double the cell layers for their cellular shades for these windows, perhaps use room darkening shades and solar shades for the others, thus playing with light and cutting out heat at the same time.