JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Window treatments are both decorative and functional, but they can also be energy efficient. Sunlight can increase temperatures and decrease the efficiency of cooling systems. During the summer, window treatments help block the sun's ultraviolet rays. In the winter, they help keep the cold out air.
Windows that are facing towards the east or south can produce large amounts of heat and sunlight. This can cause furniture, carpeting and other areas of the home to fade if some level of sun blockage is not used.
"When it comes to keeping cool in the summertime grandma's advice about pulling the drapes on windows that face the west and the south still holds true. Using a medium-colored drape with a white plastic backing can cut your solar heat gain by 33 percent," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.
Angie's List asked highly rated window treatment companies about popular trends and how they help keep your home cool.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), awnings can reduce the amount of solar heat gained in your home by up to 65 percent during the summer when used on southern-facing windows. Awnings used on western-facing windows can reduce the heat gained by up to 77 percent.
Retractable awnings are ideal when the need for such shelter is variable. Awnings that also cover exterior walls can reduce the solar heat gained by the wall. Be sure to choose long-lasting awning materials: Newer synthetic fabrics resist fading and mildew. If you live in an area with colder winter temperatures, consider roll-up awnings that allow sunlight into warm rooms in the winter.
Insulated draperies can improve your window efficiency in both the summer and winter. The thermal insulation can reduce cold drafts and prevent heat from entering or leaving your home. Using draperies is beneficial because you can open the drapes to let sunlight in to warm your home when you want.
Window blinds are a good choice for reducing heat gained from the sun. Quality blinds can reduce the heat by up to 45 percent. Blinds are not as effective for reducing heat lost in the winter, though. Using both blinds and draperies maximizes sun protection and the prevention of heat loss in the winter. Pull-down shades provide another option, and they can be custom fitted to your windows.
Window shades are window coverings constructed of solid plastic, fabric and other materials that are wrapped around a roller that fits into the top of the window frame. Shades can be adjusted by mechanisms within the roller that allow an individual to control the length in which the shade will hang down. These window options provide the individual with the ability to control the amount of light that is allowed within a room and provides protection from glares that can occur in different areas within the room as well. Shades are available in a variety of colors that enhance the feel of the room.
Shutters are manufactured for use either on the inside or outside of your home. You'll need to make sure your shutters are measured and installed properly to ensure they fit and work correctly. Exterior shutters offer efficiency and do not require space on the inside of your home. You might also consider shutter styles that provide protection against heavy winds. You can operate the opening and closing system from the inside your home or with a remote control.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy
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