Winter Window Treatments for Energy Efficiency

When it comes to heat loss, windows are to the home as the head is to the human body (that one about 80% heat loss through the human head is an old myth actually…more like 10% according to Dr. Oz). But what’s no joke is that the windows of your home typically account for 25%-40% of annual heating and cooling costs (towards the higher end in older homes)…according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Windows greatly impact both the aesthetic and functional aspects of our homes.  At best though, we have conflicting goals for windows…let light IN, keep the cold OUT…but don’t mess up the view!  Luckily, homeowners have one set of tools that can make their windows perform better…for example, choosing energy-efficient window treatments like thermal curtains, insulated shades and blinds.

In fact, many solutions exist to make both your home more comfortable as well as improving your windows energy efficiency…all without robbing your wallet blind.  And if you tend toward the handy side, a few insulated window coverings options can be done all by yourself.

Even if your home already has high-performance windows, most homeowners simply want more efficiency and effectiveness.  “It doesn’t matter whether you get the best window in the world. The first thing that anybody is going to do is change the way it works,” says Peter Yost, vice president for technical services at the publisher BuildingGreen.  How do we accomplish this? …by adding insulated shades, thermal curtains, blinds or other coverings.

So how do we make window treatments work for us, and still be efficient? Choosing ones that are adjustable is a great starting point. Letting in as much light, heat and fresh air as possible (while not obstructing the view of course) as possible — or just the opposite of all those…depending on the time of day and season.  But before you begin making any great changes or commitments, take a look at your own version of the chart below.  It was created as a joint venture between the DOE, BuildingGreen, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory…enabling you to compare several types of energy-efficient interior and exterior window treatments:

Compare Window Coverings and Attachments.

Compare Coverings - Efficient Window Coverings

So What’s Best for Your Windows? Use this Chart!

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