Window Coverings: 3 Ways to Lower Your Air Conditioning Cost
Date: Apr 2nd, 2009 9:40:31 pm - Subscribe
If you live in a sunny climate, even if only just during part of the year, you can increase the comfort of your home and, if you pay for air conditioning, you can decrease your cooling cost by using smart window treatments on the west and south facing windows. By keeping the sun's heat out of the house by properly shading these windows, not only will your living spaces be more comfortable but you will also be more energy efficient.
There are a number of different things you can do to improve the solar protection on windows including . When shopping for sun protection products check to see if they indicate the "shading coefficient" of the product. The shading coefficient is a measurement of the percentage of solar energy that is let through by the product compared with a regular pane of glass. SC is a number between 0 and 1. The lower the SC of the product the better.
Solar screens are a cheap and very effective means of cutting down the amount of solar energy entering through the windows. They are made of an aluminum frame with fabric stretched over it. You can purchase them or build them on your own. If you purchase them they should cost under $75 per one. Or you can buy the materials, and assemble and install the screens yourself for less than $20 per unit. Solar screens are installed on the exterior of the windows. They are effective at blocking the sun but have the disadvantage of interfering with the view from the window. If you want to keep an obstructed view from the windows, you might consider another option.
Similar to the familiar films in cars, reflective films can block as much as 70% of incoming solar heat while only reducing light infiltration by only 30%or so. They have the additional benefit of keeping the heat inside the house in the winter. Reflective films are not easy to apply, so you will most likely want a professional to do this for you. Make sure that you get a contractor you can trust with the job. Do your research and check with their references.
Roller shades are another cost effective means of blocking the sun's heat is the use of roller shades. They are easy to put in and roll up when not needed. Roller shades can preserve views while reflecting heat. They can be installed on the interior or exterior of the home. Windows that have large overhangs such as wide eaves are good windows for exterior roller shades. If your south facing windows have large overhangs, consider installing the shades on the bottom part. Large overhangs are effective in shading the upper portions of the windows so you'll need the most shading at the bottom of the window. By installing them at the bottom, you can extend them to the height needed to shade the lower part of the window, leaving a good view from the upper part of the window.
By using these low cost techniques, you can significantly cool down your warmest rooms, which reduces some of the workload for your air conditioner. When combined with a the use of a digital programmable thermostat, window treatments can make an impressive impact on your cooling costs. If you are a "do-it-yourself" person, the payback on these investments can be very short.
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