Your ordinary curtains can do a lot more than just hang out. Not only do they make a pretty nice dress in a pinch; they can also keep your home feeling more comfortable—and take the sting out of uncomfortably high energy bills.
In fact, the right kind of shades, drapes, or awnings can keep out cold drafts or protect you from hot sun. And that means you’ll need less energy to heat and cool your interior. In fact, if you want something extra efficient, there are even ways to integrate solar power into your shades.
Yes, you heard right—a solar powered awning. Ready to hear more? Without further ado, here are the best ways to get a new energy-conscious look for your living room.
Cellular Shades Fight Hard to Keep Your Home Comfortable—Rain or Shine
An average set of blinds already does a lot to prevent creeping temperatures in your home. According to the Department of Energy, interior blinds can reduce solar heat by as much as 45 percent. That’s great when it’s warm outside, but don’t count on a regular blind to provide much insulation when winter sets in.
Cellular shades make a more energy-efficient alternative to vinyl or metal blinds. Their honeycomb shape provides an efficient airblock, adding to your window’s overall insulation. The number you’ll want to pay attention to here is the pleat size—a larger pleat is more effective at preventing heat loss. Keep in mind that they don’t do much to stop air infiltration coming from outside, so if your windows are drafty, you’ll really need to start looking at replacement windows.
Dual Shades: Black-and-White Energy Savings
Peanut butter and jelly. Chocolate and vanilla. Some opposites just go better when they’re paired together—at least when you’re talking about your window treatments, that is. Dual shades make a great choice for homes that experience both extreme heat in the summer and severe cold in the winter. Light-colored on one side and dark on the other, they’re made to be reversed as the weather changes.
The lighter side reflects solar heat from the window, just in time for hotter weather. Then, as temperatures start to drop in the fall, you flip the shade around and voila—it’s a heat absorbingmwarmer instead. Versatile and comfortable, these treatments are made to stand up to even the toughest meteorological extremes.
Specialized Drapes Cut Heat Loss by a Third or More
You don’t go around without a jacket when it’s cold outside, so why would you expect your windows to stay naked all year? When the weather is fierce, a substantial drapery can beat back drafts and prevent heat loss as well.
The Department of Energy recommends a medium-colored drape backed with plastic. While the energy savings may vary depending on the type of fabric you choose, this strategy could cut your heat loss by 33 percent. If you want to reap the rewards on your utility bills, look for a drape in cotton or velvet—these materials have a close-weave structure, which means they’re better insulators.
Don’t really care for the loose, flowy look? Attaching your drapes to the walls using velcro closures or magnetic tape will do even more to block drafts. In fact, that can cut heat loss by 25 percent—not bad for some tape and fabric.
Awnings: Not Just for Your Neighborhood Pizza Parlor
A solar-powered window treatment? It may be coming soon to a home near you! Builders are beginning to recognize the potential of overhangs and awnings—not only can they reduce solar heat gain on west-facing windows by an unbelievable 77 percent, they also make a pretty choice spot for a solar panel. After all, why not place solar cells where the sun is shining brightest?
Even if you’re not ready for a solar-powered update, a regular canvas or vinyl awning helps dial down summer heat. And they come in a variety of contemporary styles that will actually add to your home’s overall aesthetic effect.
With Earth-friendly window treatments like these, green is definitely your color!
About the Author
Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.