Energy Efficient Window Coverings

Whether you are a believer or a sceptic of global warming and the greenhouse effect on our planet, there is no getting around our ever increasing energy costs. You only have to look at how many solar panels have appeared on the roofs around our country to understand that most of us have become more sensitive to this and are open to ways that will save money on our power bills. A good proportion of this is taken up in heating and cooling the places we live and work in.

There have been many studies done on different styles of window furnishings to see which are the most energy-efficient. Figures of up to 40% savings on heat loss through windows in winter and up to 90% reduction in heat gain in the summer months have been found. As with any of the information I mention on this webpage, there are a lot of variables that can affect these figures.

Some of the questions to consider are, but not limited to:

As a window covering supplier we can only work with what’s there, however, there are certainly some window furnishings which are going to be far more energy efficient than others. There may be some who disagree with the order I have put these in with regards to their performance,
but my research and a lifetime of experience tells me the following order is how the various window furnishings should be ranked.

Curtains

There is a wide range of fabric weights from sheers right through to heavily lined curtains. Sheer curtains are not going to give you an awful lot in the way of insulation properties. However, when it comes to heavier lined curtains, provided they have returns at either end, a pelmet at the top, or ceiling fitted, and are full length finishing at the floor to seal any warm air inside the room in winter time, and block out any hot air in the summer time, these will be pretty hard to beat when it comes to insulation and blocking out sound.

Honeycomb blinds

Honeycomb blinds rank up there as one of the best window insulators on the market. The energy efficiency properties of these blinds comes from their cellular make up. This enables them to trap an air pocket within the blind forming a barrier between the air on the window side and the air on the room side of the blinds. Some of the other advantages of these blinds is when fitted inside to reveal the gaps at the side are minimal unlike other blinds which can have up to 20 mm gap at the sides allowing hot and cold air through. They also have the top down, bottom-up option which allows for better control of light and privacy. Unlike curtains which can take up
quite a lot of space to stack off the window, honeycomb blinds will stack neatly taking up minimal space of the window.

Plantation shutters

The three main materials used to manufacture plantation shutters are PVC, timber and aluminium. Depending on who you talk to, there will be an argument put forward that each is better than the other. That aside, the fact that you have not had a solid material between the elements coming off the glass and in the atmosphere inside the room makes plantation shutters a good insulator. They would also rank as one of, if not the best for blocking out noise. The downside to shutters is the number of openings between each of the louvres. This is a little bit like the airflow that comes through venetian blinds which can cause heating or cooling the room depending on what time of year it is, although not to the same degree as venetians.

Roller and Roman blinds

Depending on the fabric used roller and roman blinds can be great for providing shade and blocking out the sun. Roller blinds are certainly a cost-effective way to furnish your windows, however, due to the fact that you only have one layer of fabric with gaps down the side, these blinds are lower rated when it comes to energy-efficiency.

Verticals Venetians and panel glide blinds

All these styles of blinds are great for providing shade, light control and reflecting the heat during the summer time, however, due to the number of openings between the blades/slats which allows airflow they don’t tend to be as affective at keeping cold air out during the winter.

Awnings

I have left these until last, because they are really in a category of their own. When it comes to blocking out heat, stopping the sun before it even hits the glass on your windows is by far the most effective way. There are numerous different types of awnings (refer awnings page). Some are controlled from the inside of the building others from the outside, some are straight drop and some on pivot arms. What works for one situation will not necessarily work for others. The key to getting the best out of your awnings is to have them down in the summer time blocking the hot sun, and have them up in the winter time letting the heat penetrate into the building. As with many of the internal window treatments, you can put weather senses on the awnings and have them motorised so they will automatically operate in favour of the current conditions.