Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency
“We can create a more sustainable, cleaner and safer world by making wiser energy choices.”
Robert Alan Silverstein
I do not believe in complaining about problems but rather, in taking at least a small step towards a solution. We often come across people who blame different nations or their government for any crisis in their lives, not realizing that we are the people responsible for most of the crises we face today.
One of problems I am concerned about is the energy crisis we face at times. As a small step towards solution, when designing or redecorating existing homes for my clients, I make sure that they understand the importance of insulating their home against outdoor weather and noise. Though I have the best interest of my clients at heart all the time, this agenda is also powered by my concern for our planet. Not many customers realize that a well-insulated and well-designed home will give them year-round comfort at no extra expense, in addition to cutting down on cooling and heating bills up to half. Apart from being cool on their budget, saving energy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions that is proving to be quite destructive to our planet.
There is the misconception among some people that windows are the only source of heat loss or gain which is not true. The walls, floors and ceiling when not built with consideration for insulation and with gaps can cause heat gain/loss as well. Shades from trees or other buildings can make a difference to the temperature inside the house too. Draft sealing is another important aspect to be considered since drafts can account for up to 25% of heat loss from a home in winter.
The most economical time to install insulation is during the construction of a house when we can make an enormous difference by choosing materials keeping in mind the R-Value of products used. With the right building materials, your home will have excellent weatherproofing, and you will not face moisture problems such as condensation. Some types of insulation also have soundproofing qualities as a bonus. Windows, when left bare, causes winter heat loss and summer heat gain, thus increasing the burden on home appliances. With the right window dressings, homes are adequately insulated, which in turn acts as a barrier to heat flow keeping homes warm in winter and cool in summer.
One of the areas where I can always make a change is the window treatments. Homeowners may be reluctant to change the flooring or ceiling considering the cost involved, but covering up windows for better insulation is always a welcome option, especially during the frigid winters in Canada. In most of the homes without updated window coverings, I can clearly notice a draft of cold air entering the home from windowsills through some gaps. Even for windows that do not have any gaps, the window itself allows indoor heat to escape. The single glass panes with loose flowing curtains cannot provide effective barriers against the harsh cold climate of Canadian winters. In cold regions, poorly insulated windows are responsible for nearly 15 to 35% of heat loss during winters. I highly recommend that my clients have a substantial barrier between the outdoor and indoor environments to keep their homes cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Once my customer agrees to upgrade the window treatments, I discuss the budget with them. Before moving ahead with the window treatments, I meticulously inspect the area where the window meets the wall and behind mouldings to ensure there is no leakage of air there. Once the seal is right, I move ahead with my choice of window dressing. With wide range of window coverings available in market, the price varies from one window covering to other. My clients have a choice to pick between simple low-tech window dressing or the high performing hi-tech ones based on their budget and requirement.
There are a lot of things I consider before selecting the window treatment for a home. With modern window treatments, home-owners need not compromise the view, limit the influx of light or block access to the window to insulate their homes. Moreover, they can have a year-round form of insulation, or take a seasonal fix based on their requirement. They can benefit from this opportunity to increase their home value and aesthetic appeal to their homes additionally.
Though fancy or lace curtains can do nothing much for insulation, modern drapes with the right thickness and size do have a great effect on the indoors. The con is that when drawn close, they will obstruct the light from entering homes, which is not something many people want. Blinds, shades, and shutters have better insulating properties and also allow diffused light to stream in.
With proper installation, cellular shades in Canada are the simplest and most effective window treatments to save energy for homes. I make sure that the shades are mounted as close to the glass as possible and closing to window casing, thus creating a tight seal that minimizes both heat gain and loss. Shades with dual layers of fabric with a light color on one side and a darker color on the other will add more functionality. In the Canadian climate, the light color will reflect heat in summer while the dark color will absorb heat during winter. Since honeycomb shades are very flexible, they are good on windows of any orientation.
Blinds are minimalist window treatments that are suitable for every practical and aesthetic function of window treatments. They effectively reduce heat loss while maintaining the desired light, ventilation, and privacy for homes. During summer, lighter blinds can reflect heat and reduce solar heat gain considerably.
With right insulation for the homes, I see to it that my customers do not blast their heaters or AC’s with the changing seasons but save enough energy and money in the long run.