Energy-Efficient Homes: A Look at Our Windows

Energy-efficient windows
Photograph provided by Hunter Douglas

As homeowners sought energy-efficient products, a new field of science emerged. The focus was on local and global energy conservation, including products that are renewed, recycled, eco-friendly, organic, locally sourced, sustainable, and minimize use of resources to provide light and heat in homes.

For over 40 years, Creative Energy Designs, Inc. has worked with homeowners to create custom products to reduce home energy costs. In 1977, in response to community concerns about the increasing cost of energy, we introduced The Window Warmer™, energy-efficient roman shades.

Four ways windows lose or transfer heat.

Conduction –Glass is excellent at releasing heat. Windows feel cold to the touch compared to your walls.

Convection –When warm air rises and cold air falls, the circulation pattern is the draft we feel in our homes.

Infiltration –This trickster is not always obvious. Air enters around poorly fitted or leaky windows. Home maintenance, like caulking around windows or improving window fit, helps to reduce this energy loss.

Radiation –The loss of warmth to the outside in winter or solar gain in the summer through our windows increases our energy use.

We looked at window-treatment-product energy savings in winter conditions, and we learned the basic level rating for conventional and thermal draperies showed a 10 percent reduction in heat loss from a warm room. Traditional draperies trap cool air between the glass and the back of the drape. Warm air enters from above the window and travels down the cold window glass and out the bottom and sides of the drapes. This process is called a convective loop, often leaving a room feeling drafty.

The intermediate level for energy efficiency is the honeycomb-within-a-honeycomb design of window shades. The Hunter Douglas product, Duette Architella, help reduce the energy loss of a home’s heating and cooling by as much as 50 percent. Window shades are one of the simplest and most effective window treatments for saving energy, but to conserve energy, this style needs to be fitted close to the glass.

When you lower shades on sunlit windows during the summer and raise them in the winter during the day and lower them at night, you maximize your energy savings. Options for motorized lifts and automated timers offer a convenient way for more-effective energy savings. In summer and winter, light control from sheer opacities to a palette of colors, spanning whites and soft neutrals to midtone and more intense hues, lend distinct drama to the décor.

The highest-rated energy-efficiency window treatments are sealed-edge roman shades. The Window Warmer, installed with full-edge seals, reduces window heat loss by 66 percent. This complete seal system is important in blocking infiltration of warm or cold air. Window Quilt®, a similar product, utilizes a four-sided seal system to block this energy loss. When raised in winter, light provides a solar gain to warm your home. When fully lowered, their unique properties reflect summer sun or seal out winter cold. Customer comments include the elimination of drafts, full privacy, noise reduction, and feeling comfortable at lower temperatures.

Carla Mason is owner of Creative Energy Designs, Inc.

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Creative Energy Designs, Inc.
125 S. Dickinson Street
Madison, WI 53703