BATTLE THE SUMMER HEAT from the inside
Over the past few weeks, we've talked a lot about how the newest windows and exterior awnings and coverings for your windows can help keep your home cool. But there are other improvements you can make on the inside of your windows to help you stay more comfortable in June, July and August.
Here are some possibilities for your home, including new ideas and more familiar options:
In the past dozen years, how homeowners "treat" their windows has changed dramatically, partly due to decorating changes. Those heavy draperies for windows are less common, especially in Arizona where many homeowners don't want to block their views. That's unfortunate, in one respect, because the U.S. Department of Energy says that draperies with white plastic backings can reduce your heat gain by up to 33 percent. A big downside, however, is that most window treatments, including drapes, always shut out some light along with the heat.
One popular option is plantation shutters with louvers that allow you to adjust the light coming in from outside. "We do a lot of plantation shutters," said Rod DiGiovanni of New West Shutter and Blinds. "When you close those louvers, it provides insulation against the heat." Blinds are also very appealing to buyers when you sell your home.
Shutters are one of the most long-lasting options and are sold by the square foot. They can be constructed from wood or from a faux material that looks like wood. Dusting or washing the louvers is relatively easy to do. You can let in more light by opening the louvers on shutters or by opening the entire shutter itself.
Roller blind shades
These so-called solar shades are installed on rollers inside the window frame and come in different levels of opaqueness or transparency. That means you can block out the UV rays and still see the fairway or mountain view outside. Darkening versions can function as blackout shades in bedrooms. You can operate them with chains or cords or get them motorized. Their fabric can be textured or have patterns. These shades have been growing in popularity recently for homes and have been used extensively in commercial buildings.
Honeycomb or cellular shades
Cellular shades provide insulation against heat by trapping air in the cells of the shade. They can come in double-cell rows or single-cell.
"The double-celled rows have a higher insulating factor against heat," said Chris Thomas of Interior Essentials in Gilbert. Shutters and cellular shades are the best at controlling heat.
You can even have high-reflectivity films installed on your current windows to block summer heat gain. Silver, mirror-like films are more effective than colored, more transparent ones. East and west-facing windows especially can benefit the most from these films. But they have some big disadvantages. They can impair your views of the outdoors; they require extra care when cleaning windows; they can make your home darker.
In fact, according to Chris Thomas, if you have windows that have low-e or low-emissivity coating on them, films can even void the warranty on the low-e coating. So, investigate this option carefully before moving ahead.
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