Angie's List: Keeping Cool with Window Treatments

By Lauren Maloney

Published 08/08 2014 08:16PM

Updated 08/11 2014 10:38AM

Blasting the A/C may keep your house cool in the summer, but it won’t help your bottom line.

If your budget could use a break, you may want to focus on your windows – or at least what’s hanging around them.

Window treatments not only bring a stylish touch to any room, but they can also provide shade from the sun.

Experts say window blinds, either vertical or horizontal type, can reduce solar heat gain by 45 percent.

Insulated draperies can also improve your efficiency, but you need to pay attention to the fabric type and color. 

“When it comes to keeping cool in the summertime grandma’s advice about pulling the drapes on windows that face the west and the south still holds true. Using a medium-colored drape with a white plastic backing can cut your solar heat gain by 33 percent,” Founder Angie Hicks said.

Certain window shades can also help slash energy costs. 

“One of the most efficient window coverings is cellular or honeycomb shades. They have a gap of air between the cells which helps as a barrier for that warm air and the heat coming in, that solar heat coming in,” Window Covering Company Owner Pat Rebb said.

Shutters can be placed either on the inside or outside of your home.

“A shutter is also very efficient because it’s covering also the sides of your window with a frame, when you do it with a frame, other than just a direct mount,” Rebb said.

“Another way to tackle the solar heat gain in your home is awnings. Window awnings today are more fashionable than days gone by. There are different types of materials as well as colors and styles. The great thing about awnings is they can cut your solar heat gain by about 77 percent,” Hicks said.

Awnings can be stationary or retractable, giving homeowners the option of having an awning or enjoying the sunshine.

“The new fabrics that are out now relative to 30 years ago are just phenomenal. The typical pro-rated warranty is for 10 years but generally you’re going to get 12 to 15 years out of the fabric, which is a great thing relative to a dollar per year cost of the product,” Awning Company Owner Matt Garvey said.

The key to reducing energy use in your home is ensuring window treatments are installed properly.

Angie’s List found most window treatment companies do offer free in-home consultations.


According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), awnings can reduce the amount of solar heat gained in your home by up to 65 percent during the summer when used on southern-facing windows. Awnings used on western-facing windows can reduce the heat gained by up to 77 percent.

Retractable awnings are ideal when the need for such shelter is variable. Awnings that also cover exterior walls can reduce the solar heat gained by the wall. Be sure to choose long-lasting awning materials: Newer synthetic fabrics resist fading and mildew. If you live in an area with colder winter temperatures, consider roll-up awnings that allow sunlight into warm rooms in the winter.


Insulated draperies can improve your window efficiency in both the summer and winter. The thermal insulation can reduce cold drafts and prevent heat from entering or leaving your home. Using draperies is beneficial because you can open the drapes to let sunlight in to warm your home when you want.

Window blinds

Window blinds are a good choice for reducing heat gained from the sun. Quality blinds can reduce the heat by up to 45 percent. Blinds are not as effective for reducing heat lost in the winter, though. Using both blinds and draperies maximizes sun protection and the prevention of heat loss in the winter. Pull-down shades provide another option, and they can be custom fitted to your windows.


Window shades are window coverings constructed of solid plastic, fabric and other materials that are wrapped around a roller that fits into the top of the window frame. Shades can be adjusted by mechanisms within the roller that allow an individual to control the length in which the shade will hang down. These window options provide the individual with the ability to control the amount of light that is allowed within a room and provides protection from glares that can occur in different areas within the room as well. Shades are available in a variety of colors that enhance the feel of the room.


Shutters are manufactured for use either on the inside or outside of your home. You'll need to make sure your shutters are measured and installed properly to ensure they fit and work correctly. Exterior shutters offer efficiency and do not require space on the inside of your home. You might also consider shutter styles that provide protection against heavy winds. You can operate the opening and closing system from the inside your home or with a remote control.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

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