Author Topic: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?  (Read 7676 times)

prof61820

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What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« on: October 21, 2013, 05:36:25 PM »
My SI and I are discussing this now.  Do (a) blinds, (b) curtains, (c) blinds and curtains or (d) shutters work best for keeping warm air in in the winter and cool air in in the summer?  I'll accept "none of the above" as well so long as you help educate me on what works best.  What is the relative costs of these options as well?  Thanks in advance for your help.

StarryC

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2013, 06:07:24 PM »
Anecdotally, I have found that the plastic you stick on and blow dry works amazingly well for it's cost.  This may be due to the relatively low quality windows that I have in my apartment.  It works substantially better than either my blinds or curtains, though I do notice that my thick, vinyl, horizontal blinds make a difference in temperature, while my thin roman-style shades do not.  This is for keeping cold out, I don't have a sunlight/keeping heat out issue.

Debbie M

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2013, 08:33:21 PM »
I have the kind of window film you apply with water and a squeegee.  It feels like being in the shade compared to not having the film but looks very similar and it's pretty cheap, though hard to apply to large windows without help.  I also have curtains, and they also help even though they are not room-darkening.  And I admit that I have tin foil on some of my windows in the summer (again, applied with water, but also taped on the edges).

I fantasize about shutters, storm shutters, and room-darking Roman shades.  I also fantasize about extending my eaves, adding awnings, adding a covered porch across the back, and adding deciduous shade trees.  Some people like trellises.  I've also heard of people taking advantage of the insulating properties bubble wrap and those styrofoam-like sheets with the reflective backing.  There's also such a thing as window quilts.

It may matter whether it's more important to keep out the cold or the heat, though deciduous shade trees, awnings that are low enough to block the summer sun but not the winter sun, and thick curtains should work well for both.

Dee18

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2013, 07:03:14 AM »
I purchased some light blocking curtains (on deep discount) from pottery barn and have noticed they really help with heating/cooling issues....and they look nice.

GuitarStv

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2013, 07:09:50 AM »
Cellular shades act like an insulating blanket over the glass of your windows when they're drawn.  Works great if you just want to block heat loss through glass.  If your windows are leaky with the breeze blowing through them, then you want something like plastic to seal the drafts.

prof61820

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2013, 11:53:59 AM »
  If your windows are leaky with the breeze blowing through them, then you want something like plastic to seal the drafts.

My windows are fairly modern (and not very leaky).  I'm looking for advice on what other steps we can take - besides the plastic seal (which is a great idea and I have done in the past) - to conserve energy and keep our gas and electric bills as low as possible.

Cinder

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2013, 12:47:47 PM »
  If your windows are leaky with the breeze blowing through them, then you want something like plastic to seal the drafts.

My windows are fairly modern (and not very leaky).  I'm looking for advice on what other steps we can take - besides the plastic seal (which is a great idea and I have done in the past) - to conserve energy and keep our gas and electric bills as low as possible.

You may also want to look into the window-jam area.  The area around my windows was just packed with loose fibreglass, which does nothing to stop airflow.  I pulled off all my trim, got a few cans of Great Stuff, filled the area with spray foam (after pulling out all the loose fibreglass).  I noticed a HUGE difference.  They were newer windows, but they were installed poorly.  The old wooden frame windows that are about 10 ~15 years older downstairs were not as 'cold' till I fixed the 'window jam' area.

jba302

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2013, 02:26:01 PM »
I wouldn't think blinds and shutters would do much, there is no good seal to hold the air in. I'd probably go with insulated roman shades on top of plastic, it would probably have the highest r-value and still let you open up the windows easier for some light (thinking a clipped in insulated panel would be best but kind of shitty looking).

Gin

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2013, 03:43:58 PM »
We have wood blinds with no curtains.  We found that solar screens on the front of the house which faces West to be the most helpful. 

MrsPete

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2013, 06:52:47 PM »
Best for insulation?  I vote heavy curtains.  And plug up drafts; I can sit at my desk in the winter and feel the draft from the back door, which is 8' away.  I got one of those twin-draft guards (like on TV) from eBay -- cheap and effective. 

If you have heat registers under the windows, be sure you're not shooting all your heat straight up the curtain instead of into the room. 

A closely related question: which direction do the windows face?  In my old house, our kitchen and sliding glass door faced the hot, harsh western sun, and that side of the house was miserable in the late afternoon.  We planted trees to get some shade, and we installed thick curtains.  It made a huge difference.

In my current house, we have a large covered porch that keeps that same harsh light away . . . But it makes our main family room rath dark, so we end up turning the lights on earlier than we would if we didn't have all that shade. 

I will not have blinds of any type in my house.  I hate dusting them. 


prof61820

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2013, 06:32:00 AM »
Our windows face both north and south.  We have honey-combed blinds now, which work well, but they are very old and need to be replaced at some point.  I like the look of shutters but I see no point in incurring extra costs (and engaging in extensive persuasion activities with my SI) if they aren't any better at saving energy than the style of shades we have now (and possibly some curtains)...

AmySantos

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2014, 10:39:30 PM »
You can choose window treatments or coverings not only for decoration but also for saving energy. Some carefully selected window treatments can reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.  Window treatments, however, aren't effective at reducing air leakage or infiltration. You need to caulk and weatherstrip around windows to reduce air leakage.

Emg03063

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2014, 09:23:37 AM »
The best treatment for blocking heat gain is aluminum foil, but most people find that aesthetically objectionable.

Milspecstache

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2014, 11:07:13 AM »
Best for insulation?  I vote heavy curtains.

Second that.  If you are good at sewing I have always been impressed with the heavy curtains that have magnets in them to grab the metal drywall corner or rebar in the bottom to keep them against the bottom window sill.

Daleth

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2014, 12:23:24 PM »
Well made, well sealed aluminum storm windows with low-e glass (think Larsen Silver or Larsen Gold windows). Not cheap but several orders of magnitude cheaper than replacing old windows, and much more amenable for DIY.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2014, 03:15:16 PM »
My living room has a very large western exposure. Gets HOT in the summer. We've had good luck with "blackout" curtains. They were dirt cheap on clearance at Lowe's.

For winter, definitely check the seal around the window. If you don't want to pry trim off speculatively, you can get IR therms for quite cheap to check for air leakage.

deborah

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2014, 11:44:22 PM »
Summer Cooling (% heat gain removed) - more is better

Best - Outside - stop the sunshine getting on the glass and turning it into a radiator - outside blind or louvre (close to window) removes 85% - 90% heat gain; pegola with vines or shade cloth 80%; awnings 75% - 85%; shutters 70% (you can get better now - this is an old figure); eves (only work properly on windows facing the sun - north in southern hemisphere, and south in northern hemisphere) 70%; total shade 40% - 80%

Do something - Inside (after the window has become hot) - film 40% - 80%; curtains 20% - 65%; blinds (15% - 65%); Double glazing 10%

Winter Warming (% heat loss removed) - more is better
Best - Inside - stop heat getting out - Double glazing 50%; Heavy curtains or blinds WITH A PELMET and gaps sealed on the bottom and sides (something a lot of people don't do) 38%; Heavy curtains or blinds without sealing 17%

I have awnings, double glazing and heavy curtains to the floor with pelmets and no gaps. The awnings were very cheap and very effective (summers get to 40 degrees Celsius) in comparison to other treatments. Curtains I made myself with 100% blackout, so they were cheaper for me than blinds. I also think it is easier to get a good seal with curtains.

happy

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Re: What Are The Best Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency?
« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2014, 04:46:25 AM »
Costly but double glazing, low E and argon filled. Match the low e film to climate i.e. different one for a hot climate to a cool one.
Cellular or honeycomb blinds work well, fit carefully to size of window.
Reduce air exchange by what ever means