Let the Winter Sunshine In!

Let the Winter Sunshine IN
Click the image above for printable poster

Even during the winter months, the sun has something to offer us.  It may not feel like it, but the sun can provide definite warmth to your home or office.  During these winter months, it is important to know how to operate your window treatments, regardless of what they are, in order to maximize the impact of your heating system.  During the day, make sure that you have your windows uncovered.  Uncovered windows mean no blinds, no shades, no drapes, no shutters or anything else to prevent the sunlight from shining into the building. 

At night when you leave the office, or after the sun sets when you are at home, make sure to draw the curtains, close the shades and drop the blinds.  Why cover the windows at night?  Once the sun sets, you will not receive any heat gain from the outside, so you want to keep the warm air that is inside your home from escaping, and at the same time, keep the cold air from infiltrating your home. 

What Should I Shop For?

If you are trying to decide what window treatments to put on your windows, consider what each provides in terms of ability to channel light and warmth into the building from the outside.  It is also important to consider where you live because you may use air cooling more than heating.  It is important to first clarify the differences between each product. 

A blind is a device that has long pieces (usually made of plastic or wood) that you can manually rotate to allow the sun to shine in at different angles or not at all. 
Shades, on the other hand, are usually made of some sort of cloth or plastic and are pulled down from above the window in one continuous piece.
Drapes just hang from a pole that extends across the top of the window and are almost always made of some sort of cloth.

What are the pros and cons of each product?

Blinds are good for controlling the amount of light that can enter a room, but they cannot prevent air exchange when you want to create an extra barrier between your window and the rest of the room.

By comparison, shades are an improvement to blinds because they do not have openings that allow air to travel between them.  However, shades may not provide the flexibility that you want for controlling the amount of light that enters the room from the sun.

Drapes can block sunlight when needed or keep warm air from escaping during cold winter nights, but suffer from the same problem that shades do; they are not very flexible in controlling the amount of light that comes in the room.

Both shades and drapes can either allow light in on an area or allow no light in.  Blinds can partially allow sunlight to an area. Among the three, blinds will offer the lowest amount of savings when used correctly.  Shades and drapes offer the higher levels of savings on heating and cooling expenses.  For more information about the pros and cons of different window treatments, follow this link to the Department of Energy’s window treatment webpage.

Remember, when the heat is on and the sun is shining, let the light shine in!  And give that heater a little break.