Window treatments and the EM spectrum
The EM Spectrum: Electromagnetic radiation is born within the core of stars hot enough to generate nuclear fusion. EM radiation comprises a broad spectrum of waves. The length of the waves determines the amount of energy that they carry. The more the energy, the more the effect on health and material like furnishings.
The EM spectrum and health: Rays like radio waves, microwaves and those visible to the human eye carry lower energy and hence are harmless. However, energy packed rays with short wavelengths like ultraviolet (UV) rays and x-rays are known to be harmful to man and material.
The earth and EM: The atmosphere that forms an invisible shield around the earth absorbs and diverts harmful EM rays. We are all familiar with the depletion of the ozone layer in the atmosphere due to man made emissions and its direct linkage to the increased incidence of skin and other cancers.
The human eye and light: 90 million rod cells and 3 million cone cells together form the photoreceptor cells of the eye. Remarkably, a rod cell can respond to a single such wave, and the brain requires fewer than ten such responses to register the sensation of a flash of light. The human eye can respond to EM wavelengths in the range of 390-700 nm.
Human beings and light: In addition to our visual response to light we also have many physiological and psychological responses to light. These include:
• Timing of light or what is referred to as Circadian Rhythms which are the changes in animals that follow the 24-hour cycle
• The intensity of the light, especially sunlight in the UV range can cause photo-phobia, sunburn and skin cancer, psoriasis, eczema, erythema and a host of other ailments.
Homeowners, concerned about style quotient, the comfort and safety of the family should realize that decisions concerning window treatment projects go beyond just making the house look pretty.
Window treatment types can be classified into curtains & drapes, blinds and shades, and shutters each with their pluses and minuses. When we look beyond color, the reputation of the manufacturer and quality of the product to handle the EM spectrum attains significant importance.
Quality and commitment: Manufacturers concerned about the quality of window treatment will transcend the visible light scale of the EM spectrum and fabricate products with the capacity to block out waves at the harmful ends of the EM spectrum.
Economical UV resistant options in window treatment: The thumb rule is that if it is opaque it prevents UV. The naturally opaque material used in blinds are aluminum, wood, and faux wood. Aluminum and faux wood blinds are economical, easy to maintain products available in a variety of trendy colors. 1 inch Crown Aluminum Privacy blinds are available for less than half its price in attractive colors. Natural wood blinds are the most favored but substantially more expensive, an equivalent could cost upwards of $60.00for the minimum dimensions. The industry has found a cheaper option in faux wood blinds. The slats of faux wood blinds are typically made of Vinyl. Being a very adaptive material Vinyl can be infused with near wood appearance and supplied at a fraction of the price of real wood equivalent. High quality 2 inch Faux wood blinds from Graber can be used extensively while denting your pockets little.
Aluminum, Vinyl or Faux Wood Blinds in window treatments have a lot to be said in their favor. They are
• Economical. Can suit any budget
• Can be given attractive finish and made to blend into any decor scheme
• Because of their inherent rigidity they can be used for larger panels. A single panel of the Graber 2 inch Faux Wood blinds can be 77 ½” width by 78” height
• Is resistant to moisture and molding, easy to fix, maintain and repair
• Help in noise control.
Higher end options. For fabric, both natural and artificial used in shades, curtains, and drapes additional coatings and lining need to be provided to achieve a high level of protection from the ill effects of UV. They are also designed as cells, honeycombs and pleats to make them functional and attractive and to enhance the desired qualities expected of window treatments like thermal insulation, energy efficiency, light filtering and noise control. The Crown Cordless Light Filtering Cellular shades are a prime example, and they work well for all the above requirements while the Crystal Pleat Single Cell Shades from Graber costs just a bit more. The inherent properties of wood which, in a sense, sets the standard for the window treatment industry, is becoming a scarce, protected commodity that is highly desired by homeowners even if it is beyond their reach.
The features of fiber and natural products are:
• More expensive
• Often need additional chemical coatings, linings and design to provide high levels of UV protection
• Sleek and attractive when installed
• Wide choice of colors
• Easy to install
• Requires more maintenance
Helpful questions to answer before venturing into window treatments.
1. What direction do the windows face?
2. What is the intensity of light that you can expect? How much of it do you want to let in?
3. Do the occupants need to sleep during daylight hours? Are the occupants finicky about light?
4. What other features are important, given the location of your home?
5. What budget have you laid out for the project?
Once these questions are answered it, finding the right treatment to protect and serve all your needs will become easier.