For the most part, our dog’s favorite spot in the house is on top of our bed (we fully admit that we regret ever allowing her up there). However, when she is not living her best life stretched out on a king-sized mattress, her favorite spot in the house is in the back room in the afternoon on a sunny day, right in front of the window. She loves stretching out in the warmth that the sun creates as it shines through that window. While that may be great for a beagle, extra heat being added to our home is not so great for us or our wallets during cooling season.
Your home’s windows can be a significant source of energy loss during both heating and cooling seasons. In fact, during the summer months, approximately 76% of sunlight that comes into your home becomes heat (source). That’s a statistic that makes you really think again about throwing the curtains wide open on a bright, sunny July day. Energy is also lost through cracks, poor seals, and windows not being able to shut properly.
There’s no doubt that newer windows are more energy efficient than older windows. In addition to newer technology that increases their efficiency, older windows tend to have issues such as cracks and leaking seals. But, replacing your home’s windows can be an expensive undertaking. Thankfully, there are ways that you can increase the energy efficiency of your windows without doing a major overhaul–with window treatments.
Window treatments and coverings, both inside and outside of the home, can have a serious impact on your home’s energy efficiency. When discussing window treatments and efficiency we are basically looking at two different factors: how much sunlight a window covering lets in and how much insulation does it provide.
We all know that sitting in a spot in front of a window as sunlight streams in is much warmer than sitting elsewhere in a room. That is why controlling the amount of sunlight that comes in can impact your home’s efficiency. During hot months, we want to reduce the amount of sunlight bringing extra heat inside, while in the wintertime, that warmth from the sun is a welcome visitor in our homes. Window treatments can be strategically opened or closed to allow or not allow sunlight in at various points throughout the day. Certain window treatments are also much better and blocking sunlight than others.
The US Department of Energy explains, “heat flows from warmer to cooler until there is no longer a temperature difference.” This means that during the summer the warm outside air will be doing whatever it can to find its way inside your cool home. Insulation throughout your home helps to prevent that from happening. The effectiveness of insulation is measured by its ‘R-Value.’ The higher the R-Value, the better.
While insulation is often found on exterior walls in attics, window treatments can also provide insulation. Certain materials have better insulating qualities than others, which is something to keep in mind when choosing window treatments.