When designing and/or decorating the home, we all envision how we would like everything to look, but we obviously have to consider the practical side of how everything will function as well. A big factor to consider, especially these days with more information coming to light about our impact on the environment, is energy savings. In our current climate, it is difficult to design any space without having energy efficiency in the back of our minds. From using solar panels, LED light bulbs, to intentionally designing site and room orientation for solar energy purposes, we’re constantly coming up with ways to increase our energy efficiency and therefore not only lower our impact on the environment, but also lower the cost of our personal energy bills.
HEAT LOSS AND HEAT GAIN
Along with solar, home design and lighting, another great way to save on energy is to dress your windows with curtains and blinds. Windows are a massive contributing factor in heat loss during the winter and heat gain during the summer, so much so that they can allow up to 40% of heat to leak out in winter. This causes your heating systems to work overtime, therefore significantly increasing your cost of energy bills.
The same can be said for heat gain during summer, particularly for north facing windows. Up to 87% of your home’s heat gain in summer can be attributed to windows. This again leads to higher energy costs as your cooling systems are working harder to keep the home comfortable, but at a much less efficient rate.
ENERGY SAVINGS FROM CURTAINS AND BLINDS
Curtains and blinds are an exceptionally effective way to minimise heat loss during winter and heat gain during summer as they act as an insulating barrier between the room and the outside elements. They do this by trapping a layer of still air next to the window, which creates and insulating air pocket. They also create a barrier against draughts. By stopping the cold or heat from entering or exiting the room, the energy from heat pumps or air conditioners are able to stay within the home, therefore expending less and lowering your bills.
While any curtains and blinds help with energy savings, the most effective type of window treatment for energy efficiency is a curtain. This is because the fabric is heavier than fabrics used for blinds, plus the pleats in the curtains create additional spaces for still air to be trapped, increasing insulation. Blockout curtains are the best choice to maximise insulation as they are opaque, therefore the opaque, blockout layer doesn’t allow heat to penetrate through the fabric and escape out of the window, ultimately keeping the heat (or cool air in summer) within the room.
Roller blinds and Roman blinds are a great option for insulation as they provide solid coverage of windows, particularly when installed on the face (outside) of the window frame as this reduces the amount of gaps where heat can escape. The best blinds for insulating however, are honeycomb/cellular blinds. This is because the cell structure of these blinds not only trap air between the window and the blind, but they also create additional air pockets within the cells, allowing for additional insulation.
While sunscreen and translucent blinds aren’t the most effective blinds in terms of keeping out the cold, their main purpose is for reducing heat and UV rays, particularly in the summer time. They are a fantastic option for keeping your home cool, while still allowing some natural light to filter through without obstructing your views.
So next time you’re building your home or even just redecorating, consider the short term and long term benefits on adding curtains and blinds to your windows. In the short term you’ll be comfortable, in the long term you’ll save money. You can’t lose!