Window Films and Shades Help Cut Heat Loss

December 18, 2014


Are you a home owner who can’t afford to put in new windows quite yet? Or an apartment dweller suffering with leaky, drafty windows? According to the Daily Herald, a Chicago area paper, window shades and films can help cut heat loss significantly without spending a lot of money.

3M offers a full range of window films and claims they can reduce energy loss by up to 30%. They may also reduce sun fading of upholstery and carpeting. The bigger home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s carry many types of window films, as does any well stocked local hardware store.

Window shades have one advantage over window films – they often have an aluminum or Mylar layer that blocks drafts. Some shades can have an R-value of up to 6, which is almost half that provided by 3 1/2 inches of fiberglass insulation. R-value is a measure of how effective a material is at blocking heat transfer. The higher the number, the better job it does of saving on heating and cooling bills.

Shades and window tints may significantly reduce how much natural light gets into a room, of course- but cellular shades let more light through and may offer nearly as much insulating power as thick, light blocking shades. All shades should have a manufacturer’s tag listing the R-value of the product. Better shades have a wide plastic channel that prevents drafts from getting around the edges and a brush or foam edge at the bottom that seals against the window sill when lowered.

Before you do anything, make sure to caulk and weatherstrip the windows. Making improvements to the glass won’t do you any good if there is air leaking around the window frame itself. Make sure the shades you are considering can be installed and operated easily. They won’t save any heat or make you more comfortable if they never get put up or used because they are too cumbersome or don’t work smoothly. Make sure to try them out in the store before you buy.

For those on a budget, being comfortable in winter does not have to be expensive.


Source | Images: 3M, Seatac Eco Films.



Stephen Hanley

lives in Rhode Island and writes about topics at the convergence of technology and ecology. You can follow him on Google + and Twitter.