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Window Covering Tips

by Nancy Wolff

A Good Set of Window Blinds Can Make You More Energy Independent.

A few years ago my husband and I met Larry Sportello of Budget Blinds out of Keene, NH. We have two large south facing windows and we were looking for way to help keep our house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Larry was full of information and offered us the following advice.

Air conditioning and heating account for between 45 to 65 percent of a single-family dwelling’s monthly utility bill? Unfortunately, windows can account for 11 to 24 percent of this amount. Experts estimate that 20 to 30 percent of the heat escapes through the windows in winter, and a similar amount soaks back in through the windows in summer. Now more than ever, because of skyrocketing energy expenses, we have energy conservation on our minds.

Here are a few tips to help you reduce you heating cost during the cold winter months and save on your utility bills in the hot summer months:

Windows facing south gain more heat during the day than they lose at night. To help maximize the heating benefits of south-facing windows during the cold winter months, it is best to keep window treatments that face south open for at least six hours during the day.

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Since solar heat is gained through windows facing east during morning hours and through windows facing west in late afternoon, to help cut air-conditioning expenses keep your east-facing window treatments open in the morning and west-facing windows open in the afternoon.

Windows facing north receive no direct sunlight and are always losing heat. It is best to keep treatments in windows facing north closed during the winter unless it is a warm sunny day.

During the hot summer months, it is wise to keep all window coverings closed if the window is exposed to direct sunlight or when the air conditioning is in operation. When air conditioning is not in use, shaded windows can be used for ventilation.

A good way to start chipping away at your utility bills is to know when to open or close your window treatments, and when R-factors (R-values) come into play. The R-factor is the measurement of how well insulation resists heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulating power.

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Windows can be covered with many different energy-efficient materials. The degree of insulation provided depends on the window covering material’s ability to trap air between the covering and the window glass.

A treatment that is mounted inside the window frame creates a tighter air seal that reduces air movement and increases insulation. Therefore, blinds or shades that are inside mounts are better insulators than window treatments that are outside mounts.

In today’s economy, energy conservation is a hot issue and while there are a myriad of other considerations, to help you conserve energy and your pocketbook, honeycomb or cellular shades provide the most effective barriers to weather because they supply up to 31 percent more winter insulation efficiency and up to 22 percent more insulation efficiency in the summer.

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We appreciated Larry’s advice, and the information provided. By installing honeycomb blinds on our large south facing windows we have kept our home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Nancy Wolff lives in Vermont. She has been gardening for the last 30 years. She has completed both the Master Gardener and the Master Composter programs offered through the state extension bureaus. She is interested in providing delicious, nutritious, chemical-free food for her family. She gardens organically, and what food is not consumed immediately she tries to preserve to be enjoyed later. She loves walking into her pantry and seeing shelves filled with the garden’s bounty! Join On the Home Front blog postings Mondays through Fridays for more from Nancy.

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