10 Energy-Saving Window Treatments

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Mar 25, 2011 | Linda Merrill

elvisfan76/stock.xchng1. Plastic sheeting: Plastic sheet kits for windows are a relatively inexpensive item than can save big bucks on monthly heating bills. Kits are available in indoor and outdoor versions as well. Seal off three season porches and unused patio doors for the winter to decrease heat loss. 

2. Nano-ceramic window films: High tech spectrally-selective “nano-ceramic” window films, available mainly to the building industry, provide a protective barrier against harmful infrared and UV radiation. These films let in maximum amounts of light while keeping out the sun’s destructive rays. Films come in clear or tinted varieties.

3. Shutters: Exterior and interior window shutters are an age-old method of keeping out the heat of the sun in the summer and cold chilly winds in the winter.

4. Sheers: Sheer draperies in linen, voile or other sheer fabrics are excellent at filtering out the hot sun without covering up the light or stopping a cooling breeze.

5. Solar shades: Solar shades are clean lined shades that completely cover a window opening. Made from heat and glare resistant materials, solar shades come in several different light blocking levels and opaqueness. The exterior sides are often treated with UV rays blocking properties that allow light to pass into the home, yet reflects the heat back out.

6. Drapes: Heavy hanging drapes are a beautiful way to cover up windows, especially those that may have leaks. Even windows that are relatively sound aren’t completely heat proof and heavy insulated drapes will keep the chill and drafts at bay. Closing the drapery at night provides additional protection. Drapery that is mounted as close to the wall as possible will have added coverage (versus a 3-4” projection away from the wall or window).

7. Thermal-lined window treatments: Many window treatments can be made with thermal lining, even top mounted swags, which is helpful if older windows have leaks in that area.

[*]Storm windows, available for inside and outside use, can save as much as 50% on home heating (per the US Dept. of Energy).

8. Thermal shades: Thermal window shades can be installed using standard roller shade hardware making them energy helpful and still inexpensive. Thermal shades are great for windows that don’t have leaks, but do lose energy through the glass.

9. Homeycomb shades: Honeycomb shades keep in the heat in the winter and out in the summer. The air pocket cells in these shades provide an insulating layer between the inside air temperature and the outside. 

10. Hard panels: Insulating hard panels are generally made from simple insulating foam cut slightly larger than the window size and pushed into place, or can be backed with plywood and painted to match the home’s exterior, or interior. This is a total blocking (light and air) option that is good for little used rooms such as basements or parts of homes that aren’t used in the winter. Excellent energy savings, but at the cost of light exposure.

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