Energy-Efficient Window Treatments

Energy-Efficient Window Treatments

Energy-saving curtains, blinds, and shutters can help control your home's temperature

By Kathryn Keep

Living room with white blinds
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Window treatments can add energy efficiency to your windows by trapping cold air in the winter and shading against the sun during the summer. Without efficient windows, you could be losing as much as 25 percent of your heat and 75 percent of your air conditioning. Custom-fitted window treatments or airtight window coverings are the most efficient, but there are many choices to improve your home's comfort and lower your heating and cooling bills.


Window treatments can't increase energy efficiency as much as new windows or insulation, but they are an important part of your overall energy-efficiency plan. Like with insulation, the efficiency of window treatments is measured in terms of R-value. R-values of window treatments range from about 2 to 5.


Draperies, such as thermal curtains, can help increase energy efficiency, but they need to be hung close to the window. Reflective films are applied to the window to reduce heat gain, but it will also block heat during the winter so it it best for climates that have a long cooling season. Blinds, shades and shutters can all help shut out the winter cold and stop excess heat gain during the summer.


Look for several features in energy-efficient window treatments. A cellular or honeycomb shade can trap cold air. Thermal linings aren't just for draperies. Roman shades can also be lined. Hardwood shutters and wooden blinds offer both insulation against cold and shading against heat.


Energy-efficient window treatments may not only increase your home's comfort but can also increase your home's value. Window treatments also protect everything inside your home from potentially damaging UV rays.


Window treatments are not part of the government supported Energy Star program or any other regulatory program, so it can be difficult to compare the efficiency of a product. Be aware of the warranty before you buy. If you hire someone to install custom window treatments, always ask for references, any necessary licenses or bonding and check the Better Business Bureau.

About the Author

Kathryn Keep is a regular contributor to DexKnows. She is an eco-consultant, with expertise in environmental issues, home decorating, green building, and general sustainable living.

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