Best Thermal Insulating Cellular Shades in Canada
Cellular shades are considered as the best thermal shades as they provide the insulation from outdoor hazards. Cellular shades are made with some honeycomb structured fabrics. Honeycomb design creates a cell-like structure and forms an air pocket. These air pockets are responsible for the insulation feature. These air pockets permit the cellular shades to prevent heat loss during the month of winter and heat absorption during the summer season. Because of this insulating property, you can save your money on the energy bills.
Thermal Comfort with Cellular Shades Coping with MS in Canada
The chill is definitely creeping back in, and it’s time to make the seasonal repairs that ensure that heat is not lost through negligence. Electricity is a precious resource I wouldn’t want to waste, especially as Canada will get downright bone-freezing cold in the coming months, and if the last year is anything to go by, I wouldn’t want to take any chances.
Making Changes for the Colder Months
So, after having fixed any leaks in the ducting, leaks in the roof, and around windows and doors, it’ll soon be time to take down the warm clothing that was lovingly vacuum packed and stashed. I don’t believe in throwing out old clothes with the season. My stuff is well preserved, something I take great pride in. And though it gets icy, I get all my rugs and carpets cleaned and I stow them away till summer – they’re a magnet for dust mites, and even though I do ventilate my home to an extent, I shudder to think of how many millions of them thrive on the rugs! So it’s off with them! And it’s also time to start changing the window shades. In late spring and summer, I love a combination of my pastel rugs, indoor greenery, and grass shades – in my bedrooms, I have them outfitted with liners for privacy. But now that it’s evidently getting colder, they’re not much help; even if I were to use insulated backing for them, they wouldn’t be as effective as the cellular shades I invested in last year, along with the high-performance glazing I got fixed for my windows.
Insulating Cellular Shades Teamed with Double-Glazed High-Performance Windows
I had done some thorough research before I decided on making these changes. I used to lecture at the University, which meant spending long hours there; though I love keeping a beautiful home, there were times when my surroundings didn’t matter, what with my thoughts on nuclear matter and fission and promoting clean energy! But a few years ago, at the age of 28, I was diagnosed with Relapse-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RR-MS), the most common form of MS. I used to wonder why I felt tired so much of the time, zoning out completely, developing uncontrollable arm and leg spasms that were really painful. I’d be okay for a while, some months, then these little occurrences would be back, each time a little stronger, till an episode that saw to it that I was in excruciating pain, my extremities stiff, no movement possible. Well, luckily for me that morning, a neighbor came calling for some sugar, and managed to rescue me, and with her husband’s help, took me to the hospital, where tests came back positive for MS, my brain resembling a Christmas tree in the scan. MS is an immune-mediated disease that allows the immune system to attack the central nervous system – the brain, the spine and the optic nerves – in which the insulating material of the nerves, the Myelin Sheath, and the nerves themselves, resulting in scarring or sclerosis, the nerve impulses travelling between the brain and spinal cord being interrupted or distorted, in turn resulting in blurred vision, lack of coordination or clumsiness, tingling and numbness, weakness of limbs, distortion in thinking, and loss of balance.
The condition led to my becoming a part-time faculty member, and ultimately, to the loss of my job as there were days when I couldn’t function when the University required me to. This has led to my spending a lot more time at home, and I need to make my living space conducive to managing my disease efficiently. Swings in temperature made me uncomfortable, often making me feel more fatigued than usual, making me stiff, more immobile, and prone to relapses. While I have slowly learned to take care of myself, enrolling in a help group and meeting others like me, maintaining a strict regimen of exercises prescribed by my physiotherapist in a gym close by, keeping my home’s temperature has been a challenge. I have long been an advocate of clean energy use and have even advised housing societies on doing away with cooling systems here in Canada. Understanding that well-ventilated homes make for properly maintained indoor temperatures with the help of ceiling fans during summer is exceedingly important in saving on energy usage. Using high performance windows with low-E coatings ensure that less heat is lost through extensively used glazing – even the use of high performance glazing (double and triple paned gas filled windows) results in the loss of 10 times the amount of heat than an adjacent concrete wall of the same dimensions would lose.
The Writing is on the Wall
FACT – windows are energy holes in a building’s envelope.
While windows are the weak links in heat loss due to their low insulation values, they are also an undeniable source of heat gain. Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, windows need to be covered to maintain stable indoor temperatures. This would ensure that heating systems can be used at an ideal 18-20 degrees Celsius. Wearing sweaters and socks at home means that the heating doesn’t have to be turned up, turning it down by 5 degrees less at night, when the body is at its full state of rest. But what shading system is best to be deployed over windows to prevent infiltration of air around the shades that has been cooled by the window glazing? Living in Canada, you’d know the financial strain these can bring. Electricity rates have been on a steady climb since 2007. This year, after Ontario Hydro went public, the energy bills are predicted to go up 77%. Having no regular job and being reliant on my disability funds kept me vigilant on my energy consumption. I learned that cellular shades (horizontal cells stacked one on top of the other to form a honeycomb structure when viewed from the side) are efficient heat trappers, a barrier of air being practically deployed over windows to keep heated air in.
Refreshing Indoor Air
While indoor plants go a long way in absorbing indoor air pollutants to keeping indoor air non-toxic, a heat recovery ventilation system (HRV) pulls fresh air in transferring the heat from the already heated air to the fresh air before extracting the stale air. This way indoor air is kept relatively stable, as long as there are no leaky or unprotected windows to nullify its effect, with window shades to aid its efficient functioning.
Thermal Window Shades
Cellular Shades are the most popular window shades because of having the high R-value (thermal insulation value). These shades are the perfect window covering for extreme summer or winter. Cellular air pockets help your room to maintain the temperature with the outside temperature. These air pockets trap air to create a barrier for the insulation from heat and cold.
Characteristics of Cellular Shades Canada
Cellular shades have distinguishing characteristics that set them apart, aside from being crafted from non-woven polyester point bonded and Spun-lace fabrics –
Cell sizes – hexagonal or D-shaped, the bigger the cell dimensions or, the more the cell layers, the more the air trapped and the more the insulation the shades provide. The cellular shades are designed with 3/8-inch single and double cell shades, and ¾-inch single cell shades, with some brands offering ½-inch single-celled shades.
Opacity – the shade fabrics come in varying degrees of opacity from sheer to light filtering to room darkening to blackout that accommodates individual lighting and privacy needs –
Sheer fabrics offer a fairly clear view through it, even with double layers, providing no privacy at all, but allows plenty of filtered light through.
Light filtering fabrics light allow into a room to brighten it with a beautifully soft glow, and while the view is muted, shapes and movements are easily gleaned.
Room darkening fabrics are fairly dense and obscure the view in, during the day, darkening a room for privacy, though, at night, shadows may be seen when a room is brightly lit.
Blackout Cellular Shades are crafted from the densest fabric, completely annihilating light as the insides of the cells are lined with Mylar. Some manufacturers even have the Mylar sandwiched between two layers of fabric to ensure 100% blackout and privacy. Blackout shades are recommended as the best ‘sleep shades’ by the National Sleep Foundation of North America, making them a great option for those suffering sleep disorders, migraines, etc., for nurseries and for those people who work night shifts and need blackout for undisturbed sleep. Blackout shades are equipped with side tracks that also have black coated insides to take care of the light that creeps around shades to create an irritating ‘halo effect’. The hem bars are also edged with felt so that no seepage occurs beneath it. The side tracks do not impede the movement of the shades in any way, so there’s no fear of frayed or damaged edges for the life of the shades.
Thermal Insulation – the cells are heat trappers; the air that’s engulfed by the cells form an insulating barrier between the room and window when the shades are fitted no more than an inch away from the glazing, keeping the warm air in during winter, and cool air in during summer. The sidetracks that are an intrinsic feature of blackout shades can also be fitted with shades of lighter densities, bought at an extra charge (Graber and Crown), to prevent heat from being lost from a room through convection currents flowing around the shades. Cellular shades are said to have an R-Value (thermal resistance) of light filtering shades is doubled when used in tandem with side tracks, and increase to up to 4 times when blackout shades are used.
Acoustic Insulation – cellular shades also slow the trajectory of sound waves, blunting them before they can find a surface to bounce off of, creating a cocooned feel in a room, especially if you live in an area with lots of kids, teens, and traffic like I do. There are days when I want my rest to function properly, and there was a time before I acquired these shades when it wasn’t possible.
Features of Cellular Shades
The Sun Up Sun Down Feature – is an offering from the Graber stable of cellular shades, in which two shade panels of differing opacities are fitted into the shade system, separated by a mid rail, with each shade fabric individually deployed for room brightening during the day, and room darkening at night. This allows owners the flexibility of choosing the same shade for all the rooms.
The PerfectVue Shade – is another combination shade system with a pleated panel on the top and a cellular panel on the bottom, much like the SunUp SunDown, only that the pleated panel offers the sheer or light filtering options for room brightening and to deflect the UV rays of the sun, to be used during the day.
The Top Down Bottom Up (TDBU) Feature – is one that allows a single shade panel to be either lowered from the top or raised from the bottom or both, for privacy and to optimize room brightening. This is an attractive feature that allows shades to look magical, creating a thoroughly modern, elegant feel for windows.
Do Thermal Blinds Work?
Cellular shades provide much better insulation than any other shades. Honeycomb design creates a cell-like structure and forms air pockets which increase their insulating value. These shades control the temperature inside effectively both in the month of summer and winter. In the winter season, the warmth from inside your home will be reflected back into your room whereas in the summer, the unwanted heat from outside will be reflected away to help you stay comfortable. Insulating cellular shades will help you to cut the cost on energy bills as the shades trapped the warmth into the air pockets.
Stable Indoor Temperatures to Manage MS
The unfortunate thing is that the last three options aren’t available as motorized options, due to the complexities of function and weight, else, I would’ve certainly opted for the SunUp SunDown feature for my shades. For me, it’s imminent that I automate. Cellular shades seem an ideal option in aiding stable indoor temperatures because fluctuating temperatures will most certainly worsen my MS symptoms, making it difficult to manage them – doctors believe that this occurs because heat causes nerves (whose myelin covering has been stripped by MS) to conduct electrical signals even less efficiently. For reasons that are not well understood, extremely cold temperatures can also cause MS symptoms to flare, usually spasticity (muscle stiffness), but more often than not cold weather seemingly improves/decreases MS symptoms. But recently, there’s been cause for good news.
Melatonin and MS
Francisco Quintana and his collaborators at Harvard Medical School found that melatonin—a hormone involved in regulating a person’s sleep-wake cycle—may influence MS disease activity. The team found that during the fall and winter, the group of 139 relapsing-remitting MS patients they studied experienced a significant improvement in symptoms, a phenomenon that’s been observed in previous studies. The team then explored a variety of environmental factors that have been proposed as possibly linked to MS symptoms, including vitamin D levels, UV incidence, and upper respiratory tract infections. But melatonin was the factor consistently associated with severity of MS symptoms. Melatonin levels are known to correlate with day length—during the longer days of the spring and summer, levels are lower and during the shorter days of the fall and winter, levels are higher. – As reported in Cell, two weeks ago.
So, that’s good news for those of us with MS. And with the Virtual Cord Crystal blackout cellular shades in my bedroom and study, light filtering ones in the living cum dining, and the side windows of my front door as, all with side tracks, I will probably be able to manage the disease better. The Virtual Cord is a state of the art automation for the pleated-cellular collection from Graber, possible to motorize shades up to a width and length of 12 feet. This worked well, as each shade has a separate motor that can be charged with a plug-in adaptor, and controlled with a single channel remote that is enabled with a simplified ‘io’ communication protocol using RF. This means that the shades can be controlled from anywhere in the house within a distance of 65 feet.
Just what the doctor ordered! Apart from my new exercise regimen, and work as a writer. The future looks good.