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Energy Savings with Window Treatments: This is a test … this is only a test!

With window shades provided by Gordon’s Window Decor, Green Energy Times is in the process of monitoring their thermal performance.

The test is being performed on residential windows of an energy efficient home that is constructed with Structurally Insulated Panels and triple pane windows and doors. R-value in the roof is R-47 and the walls are R-38, with log siding. The passive solar, well-insulated home takes advantage of Solar Gain by it’s orientation, which works extremely well during the winter. To counter the sun on the south facing side of the home, a 4’ overhang is accomplished with a balcony over the 1st story windows, as well as a 4‘ overhang from the upper roof. The western 1st story has a full porch attached with skylights over some of the windows to allow lighting gain.

Most of the northern side of the house is blocked from the elements of the winter by the addition of a breezeway that leads to a double car garage. The northeastern corner of the house is still open to the elements with a double casement window arrangement in the bathroom. Some cold air could be felt when the temps dropped below zero, in spite of the fiberglass frame and triple panes, designed to perform with as little heat loss as was possible at the time of purchase. Gordon’s Windows installed a single insulated beautiful blue EcoSmart shade with side tracks in March of 2011. Although we have not been able to put them through the test of the brutally cold January and February months, we were able to see a huge difference in the time that we were able to test them last winter. When we would open the shade, the temperature difference was unbelievably noticeable. They truly performed in a manner that made the comfort level in the room much warmer during the night. Clearly, the heat loss was lessoned, as well as the cool air that was felt along some points in the windows.

What we never realized is that the cooling and heating of windows actually wears the windows down after time, which occurs on all windows. The EcoSmart shades are a welcome solution. They also look great, even if you are a fan of no curtains. During the day, when we want our solar gain and ability to keep our energy need for lighting low, they beautifully draw up to allow any level of light in. We are testing the highest insulated shade they offer, so when they are down, it is dark inside. Gordon’s offers a light filtering shade, but we wanted to give them the ultimate test to be able to give our readers an option to reduce their energy usage that is much less costly than window replacements. Window treatments, after time will eventually be needed as your home settles and the seasons come and go, to keep your heating needs lower.

We also installed them on our eastern facing windows where we were feeling cold air coming in and also seeing some icing in the corners and lower edge of the glass during the coldest nights, and with nor’easters! The shades performed the same as with the north facing window treatments.

The eastern windows do not have any overhangs for summer shading/cooling. It was nearly impossible to sleep in with the sunrise and immediate temperature increase in the mornings. An unexpected benefit of the shades is how they keep summer heat out. With the shades down at least 80% until the sun reaches overhead, they really keep the room cool, in spite of how hot it gets outside. When you pull the shades up it is unbelievable how scorching hot it is between the shade and the window (we tend to keep the windows open to let it out). We chose a color that matches the wide wooden sills and they look very nice as well. The ones on the south side of this room are under a porch roof, so we just appreciate their summer value of keeping the room darkened when we want to sleep in.

Now that we realize the huge benefit of their cooling abilities we need to deal with the upstairs 2nd story windows that only have a 2‘ overhang. We hope that Gordon’s will allow us to test that side of the house and will let you know if it helps to keep it cooler in here when the temps reach to the 90’s outside and there is no breeze anywhere. After that it should be cool sailing in here and our energy reduction measures will benefit all the more.

Written and tested by Nancy Rae Mallery 8.5.11
GET Aug2011 page 29

1 comment to Energy Savings with Window Treatments: This is a test … this is only a test!

  • This is very hflpeul information. I wonder if, as a general contractor, we might be able to utilize a program like this to do replacement windows in apartment buildings and condominium complexes? In multi-tenant properties, we can make a real difference in a lot of peoples lives and reduce greenhouse gases at the same time. Good info.

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