One of the best ways you can save energy and money in your home is by insulating it properly. This helps you avoid having to turn to heating, air conditioning and even fans to help regulate the interior temperatures. Many of us are well aware of things like insulation and sealing out drafts, but did you know that your choice of window treatments can also have a profound effect on your home’s heating and cooling costs?They can help you take maximum advantage of the sun’s warmth but also help to block it out when it’s boiling hot outside. The proper window coverings will also help you reduce your use of electricity by helping you not to have to turn on lights when it’s not necessary.
The idea is really to use your curtains and blinds to lock in the heat when you want to, block it out when you need to and allow precious sunlight to filter in and offer you the benefit of natural illumination. Lastly, they allow you to make the most of the heat and cold air you do generate so that it doesn’t escape right out the window. The result? -Heaters and air conditioners turned on for less time, and a smaller amount on your electric bill every month.
Exposure of the Room
It can be difficult, when first moving into a new home, to determine how much light each room will get throughout the day. You might see a new bedroom in broad daylight and immediately think of blockout blinds, when really that bedroom will become quite dark in the afternoons.
Check the exposure of each room and its windows- do they face north, south, east or west? An east facing bedroom will get bright morning sunlight as the sun rises, while a west-facing bedroom will enjoy the evening light. North and south-facing rooms will have indirect sunlight.
Think over how much light and heat will flow into the room through the window at any given time of the day. You can then consider your user or room inhabitant’s preferences. Do you need a pitch black room in order to sleep? Perhaps you’ll be putting the kids down before the sun goes down and it helps to be able to block out the light. Alternatively, you might have an office you wish to keep as light and bright as possible. Maybe you want to have the best of both worlds- a room you can let sunlight into but make perfectly dark when necessary.
In all rooms you’ll want to be able to regulate the temperature so that you can stay comfortable. These are things that the right blinds and curtains can help with, and along the way you’ll be saving money on your energy bills and helping to conserve natural resources.
Keeping Heat In
If you live in a generally cold place you’ll want to make the most of any warm sun rays that do come in through the windows. You can use your window coverings to help seal out any drafts and prevent the heat from escaping through the glass (hopefully double-glazed windows).
Choose thicker curtains or roman blinds that cover the entire window frame. Open them when the sun is shining directly in the room- if it’s warm enough you can also open the window. Once it begins to cool down, close your curtains and blinds to lock in the heat. Also, remember that thicker blinds and curtains don’t have to be dark or heavy in color. You can choose a lighter shade to allow the light to filter through, or just to accent your design scheme.
Cooling off the Home
Direct sunlight can do wonders to heat up a room (as mentioned above) but what about when you’re trying to stay cool? That same mid-day sun that you look forward to in the winter can make your home suffocating during the hotter months.
Stay cool by using the same principles you would to seal in the heat- in the early morning when the breezes are still cool, open your blinds and windows and let the cool air flow in. As it begins to heat up (or preferably a bit before you begin to feel the true heat of the sun) close the windows and draw the blinds or curtains.
Unless you really enjoy darker rooms, you won’t want to screen out all of that lovely natural light. To keep the sun from flowing directly through an open roman or Venetian blind, choose a slightly darker roller blind. Light filtering roller blinds come in all manners of finishes, with tightly woven or looser fibers to allow you to choose the exact amount of light you let in.
Blinds, Curtains or Both?
When it comes time to choosing which window treatments will help you save the most on your energy bills, you may be wondering which ones are best. The answer is both, as long as you choose the right ones for your needs. After all, you still need to work within your design scheme- there’s no point in choosing a purely functional option if it doesn’t add to your home’s overall aesthetic appeal.
If temperature control is one of your main considerations, do choose either curtains or roman blinds (the most curtain-like of all blinds) that extend past the outer edge of every window frame. These will really help block out the cold and prolong the heat from your heater.
If you want to make the most of natural light, choose an option that lets the light filter through. You may have the best thick drapes in the world but if they make the room dark and dank you’ll have no chance of a light, bright and pleasant environment.
There’s also the option of layering curtains over blinds to achieve the best of all worlds. This will really give you maximum control. Try installing a sheer roller blind topped with a pretty set of curtains. You’ll then have the option of opening everything and enjoying the view, lowering the blind to let the light filter in but still allow privacy, or closing them all to stay ultra-cosy.
Have you used your blinds or curtains to help you save on your heating and cooling bills? Let us
know your best tips in the comments below.