Building for the future, today – combining the best of historical wisdom and modern technology.
Living in Michigan, I'm used to the cold. I'm prepared each October when it's time to turn the heat back on. Still, we avoid it for as long as possible, because the cost of heating a home is not cheap. In fact, propane is more than $2.00 a gallon and unless you use alternative methods to heat your home, you'll spend thousands each year to stay warm.
Cost is a primary reason we strive to lower our heating bill and save energy, however possible. One way to do this is through installing the right window treatments. Considering that windows can be responsible for up to 40 percent of heat loss in a home, it's smart to fully consider the ways to cut that percentage and not waste heat that reaches the outdoors.
Before actually choosing window treatments, do an energy audit to access where you have the most air leaking from; this helps to determine which windows will need the most attention. We purchased an energy audit IR thermometer and were able to quickly see the temperature rating and then compare our efforts in winterizing our home. It helped for us to see the difference that keeping blinds closed and adding thermal drapes.
Next, make sure you've caulked and winterized your windows. This is the most important step in avoiding any loss of heat. Make sure you've installed storm windows, inspected for leaks and caulked where necessary.
Now that you've taken these steps, here are some tips and ideas for choosing window treatments specifically for saving energy in your home:
1. Consider adding a clear winterizing film on the interior of your window. This helps to avoid any loss of heat, and you can still see through your window if installed correctly. It's a budget-friendly way to conserve energy without spending money for new windows.
2. If you choose window drapes, consider drapes that are made to block out the sunlight and trap heat indoors. These are often made of a heavy fabric, with an edging or tab that goes beyond the window frame to block air from leaving the side of the window. They're specifically made to insulate your home and protect from heat loss during the winter and heat gain during the hot summer months. You'll find a variety of colors and styles, including thermal drapes, which are often more expensive but well worth the cost to save you money in the long run. They're typically machine-washable for easy cleaning, which is a bonus, too!
3. Consider making your own quilted window drapes. If you're the type of person that likes to take on a project, making your own heavy quilted window coverings is a fun project with huge dividends. Here's another DIY option for making thermal curtains. The bonus to making your own is that you can reuse quilts and fabric that you have at home, or pick out fabric and material that matches your home décor.
4. Choose heavy wooden blinds. Heavy wooden blinds are harder to clean but they do a good job (when kept closed) at keeping your heat indoors. When paired with clear winterizing film and/or thermal drapes, you have an even better energy saving option. We like the look of wood blinds and use them in our own home.
5. Consider foam board insulation for the exterior of infrequently used windows. If you have a window that you don't necessarily look out of often, foam board on outside can form a strong protective barrier to keep cold out and heat in.
We do this at our own home, using R-7.5 foam board that is 1-1/2 inches think. The board is not pretty, but when we used our IR thermometer we noticed a 10-degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature. It's worth the ugly board on windows we don't look out of often. I don't recommend doing this on the road-facing side of your home, as it certainly doesn't have curb appeal.
New windows aren't cheap, so if you don't have the budget to replace old windows, definitely consider window treatments that will help insulate your home during the winter and summer months. Hopefully these tips will help you choose the right window treatments for your home to save energy and cut costs. Stay warm this winter!
Photos by Sommer Poquette
Sommer Poquette is a popular mom blogger who focuses on green home DIY for The Home Depot. Sommer's energy-saving window treatment tips are designed to help you cut down on energy costs with the current windows you have installed. For a broad selection of window treatments, including those discussed by Sommer, you can visit Home Depot's website.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.