So here’s a “Trivial Pursuit” kind of question… What were the first kind of window treatments and why were they even invented?
Any guesses? I’ll give you a hint. You have to go back in time, waaaaay back.
Historians believe that the first window coverings were made of furs, skin and hides, and were simply nailed to the wall. As crude as these treatments may seem, they had a purpose. Window treatments were developed by our ancestors as a reaction to their surroundings. Just like us, they wanted to block the blistering sun, and stop those bone-chilling drafts. Keeping ourselves and our homes comfortable has always been important.
Unfortunately, trying to keep our homes comfortable can come at a cost. With the high temperatures of summer, our air conditioners can run constantly, and when we get those northern blasts, we crank up the heat. This results in BIG energy bills. Lucky for you, modern man has developed energy efficent window treatments that not only look good, but can save you some serious cash. Let’s go over a few simple window treatments that can have a huge impact:
Window blinds (vertical or horizontal in orientation) are wonderful at deflecting the sun and therefore the amount of heat entering your home. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that in a “sunny window, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45%.” While blinds are energy efficient in the summer, because of the openings between the slats, they don’t really help prevent heat loss during the winter.
Here are some awesome numbers to crunch: draperies have the potential to significantly reduce heat gain by up to 33% and heat loss by up to 25%! The following are some tidbits about energy efficient draperies and how to get the most bang for your buck:
- The weight, weave and color of the fabric has a huge impact on the draperies’ efficiency.
- During the summer close the drapes on your sunny windows to keep your home cooler. For an even greater reduction in heat gain, use drapes that are lined with white-plastic.
- One reason drapes help you stay more comfortable in the summer is because the fabric can remain cooler than other window treatments (heat is lost through heat convection through the pleats and folds).
- Draperies can prevent heat loss in the winter by insulating your window opening, so it’s important to close the drapes on your windows at night, windows that don’t receive sun during the day, and even the windows that face north.
- The most effective way to prevent heat loss with your draperies is to:
- install your curtains so they are as close to the window as possible
- make sure your drapes drop to the floor or windowsill, which seals the bottom
- add a cornice at the top of the drapery, or make sure that your drapery begins at the ceiling (this seals the top)
- seal the sides and middle (this can be done with velcro or magnetic tape)
Shutters can also save you money on your energy bill. While louvered shutters don’t help you much in the winter, they can definitely make your home cooler in the summer because you can adjust them to block sun light. Solid shutters, however, can help you in the summer and the winter. If you fit them snug to the window frame, they will insulate the space between the window and shutter, keeping you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. You can also combine shutters with other window treatments to increase their efficiency even more!
As you can see, we’ve come a long way since the early days of furs and hides over our windows. Luckily, we now have many different energy efficient window treatments that are not only beautiful, but can make a significant impact on your energy bill. Join us for the next blog post where we will cover even more window treatment choices that can make your home beautiful, comfortable and efficient!