Window coverings reduce energy use.

Don’t be embarrassed – most of us get complacent over time. We procrastinate. We let things slide. When it comes to your home and its energy efficiency, though, those little areas where you put off fixing a problem can become additional, unnecessary costs on your monthly utility bills. Spring is a great time to shake out your apathy and address bad habits that are wasting power throughout your home. Start with the big stuff, like reducing how much you’re heating or cooling your home. Since the HVAC system accounts for an average of 45 to 55 percent of utility bills across a six- or seven-month period, shifting your behaviors toward energy efficiency can become measurable savings on utilities. Your large appliances, too, use a lot of power (as much as 40 to 45 percent in some cases) and better habits there can also have an impact, even if it’s just a small one, on your energy consumption.

Curtains and Drapes
Your most basic, interior window treatments are sized to fit. They’ll reduce heat gain/loss due to a variety of factors, from their material and size to their color. Refresh yourself on proper use, according to season – i.e. close curtains and drapes during the day in summer to block heat intrusion, open them wide at night to let excess heat escape your home through open or closed windows.

Solar Shades
These very common window treatments reduce glare without blocking the view. A carefully-crafted mesh screen affixed outside, they minimize the passage of heat and light by filtering UV rays and bouncing solar heat away. Designed to allow visibility, solar shades are limited in how effective they can be – consider combining them with additional window coverings
to have more control over blocking light and heat.

Simple, properly-hung shades (as close as possible to the window) help trap warmed air and keep it from circulating throughout the home. Dual shades are the smart investment here, designed to be reversed each season – the lighter, reflective side faces outside in summer to bounce sunlight away; during winter, the darker, heat-absorbing side faces the cold outside, trapping heat in the home.

Cellular Shades
This design is honeycombed with hexagonal cells that create air pockets. Made for insulation, the lattice design keeps heated or cooled air from circulating while also diffusing light.

Lined Drapes
These medium-colored fabric hangings are backed in white plastic and are able to reduce heat gain by as much as 33 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Their pleats and folds aren’t just aesthetically pleasing. The design helps the drapes lose heat through convection helping keep the room cool.

Blackout Curtains
Slightly pricier than standard shades, these curtains are made of heavier, opaque material. Often used to create dark rooms for day-sleepers, they’re also great at blocking heat when properly-mounted floor-to-ceiling and flush with the wall.

Hung outside the home, shutters can be made of everything from fabric and wood to metal or vinyl. They’re designed so the larger the opening, the more solar light and heat will pass through, and they often come with the means of changing configuration. (Rolled shades can be moved out of the way, entirely.) Consider plantation shutters for the most complete solution – hung outside the home, these wood or vinyl shutters can be a valuable decoration and a very effective sun-block.

Reflective Blinds
Whether vertical Venetian blinds or horizontal louvered blinds, these window treatments can reduce heat gain by about 45 percent, per the DOE. Summer or winter, they can be adjusted to block or reflect sunlight for cooling or allow it to pass through for additional light or warmth. They’re also capable of being raised/lowered or opened/closed depending on your needs.

Window Films
Applied directly to the glass of the window, films are ideal for reducing light and heat while minimizing ultraviolet light. Bad news, they also block the sun’s warming heat in winter and will naturally have an impact on the view through your windows.

More of an exterior design choice that creates useful shade, awnings installed outside the home can create useful shade during the summer. When you opt for retractable instead of fixed awnings, you’ll regain helpful control that can save you on heating in the winter in addition to reducing cooling in summer.


Save on your Electric bill and Request our Farmers EC Home Energy Efficiency Guide in the Efficiency hub.