Even if you have seen the seasons churn over the years in Minneapolis, it is useful to be clear in the mind that Windows fulfill multiple needs in our homes:
• Bring in natural light
• Connect us with the outdoors
• Allow fresh air to flow indoors
• Manage the entry of the sun’s energy entering the home
• An important element in interior decor
Balancing these needs to choose the best solution is a complex endeavor involving the exterior and interior. The decision-making process entails an understanding of various factors peculiar to each home:
The influence of climate on the decision-making process of window treatments is proportional to the severity, fluctuations and extremity of temperatures through the year. This means that the lower the extremes, the less influence climatic considerations will have on the decision. Though experience is the best input, a scientific understanding of weather patterns will help in getting best returns on investments made on window treatments.
Various non-profit organizations are entrusted with the responsibility to gather data about the weather and to interpret it for the benefit of the public.
The Existing window fixtures:
Most existing windows would contain some form of glass. It could be single pane plain glass, double pane or treated glass with features like lamination, tempering, energy efficiency, etc.
Existing window dressings, their performance, and condition:
These could be any. For example film, screen, shade, blind, awning, shutter … the list could be endless. If some of them are going to be retained, the selection options narrow, because the new window treatments will have to complement the existing ones in décor, energy efficiency, and every other criterion considered important for the home.
The features each homeowner considers as being important to their needs:
To a large extent, the important criteria for the new window treatment will be influenced by all or some of the above factors. They can be broadly classified into the following though not in the same order:
*Visual requirements *Thermal requirements * Functional requirements
Minneapolis falls in the North Climate Zone of the Energy Star classification, so one should not forget to enquire with the supplier whether his products are suited for the North Climate zone. Helpful suppliers would want to have information about the window. If it is the main window in the living room, there is a very good chance that it is single pane clear glass because it is normally the choice of most builders and homeowners. The window treatment requiring replacement could be the drape. Drapes are generally the first choice of homeowners for their main window because they lend grandeur to the decor. However, they fade, collect dust easily and as experience will tell, not the best insulators.
Visual requirements could include the view, light control and glare control.
Thermal requirements for Minneapolis are a crucial factor and should include insulation, air tightness, and comfort in winter and in summer along with protection from solar heat.
Noise reduction, sound absorption, protection from EM and UV also fall into this category.
Having garnered an understanding of windows and with a clear understanding of what is to be achieved by replacing the existing treatment it becomes easy to evaluate products.
Size: Size is a major consideration because main living room windows are normally large.
Ease of control: Crucial.
Every window treatment type has its own advantages and disadvantages. Considering that Minneapolis falls in the North Climate zone with long cool to very cold weather, thermal requirements are critical. Keeping in mind the visual and functional requirements the choice of window treatment types narrows down to either curtains & drapes or shades.
Shades: Within the window treatment type – shades – there are many kinds; sheer shades, roller shades, pleated shades, cellular shades, top down bottom up shades etc. The common factor though is that they all use fabric of some kind. The visual, thermal and functional requirements are provided by the fabric.
Enhancing thermal properties: Effective insulation is achieved through design and construction. Cellular blinds designed in the form of cells in a honeycomb have spaces to trap air and provide effective thermal control. Depending on the extremes of temperature they can be single, double or even triple celled. Drapes and Roman Shades can be given extra insulation by opting for various insulating backings provided by manufacturers.
Visual requirements: To have greater control over light conditions and to also enjoy the benefits of thermal insulation sun up sun down, top down bottom up and other such designs with the possibility of combining types to take advantage of their properties will be a good idea.
The Graber CrystalPleat and PerfectVue provide wrinkle-free coverage for window sizes ranging from 9” to 12 feet. For greater widths multiple panels can be accommodated on a single head rail, the width can even be 16 feet, motorized or cord controlled. Providing room darkening, blackout, sound dulling, UV blockage and most of the desirable qualities discussed above, these products can be the standard for comparison for residents of Minneapolis in their quest for a good window treatment solution.