7 Window Treatments That Can Lower Your Energy Bills

Houzz contributor, architectural and urban designer with over a decade.

Whether  it’s a pair of drapes hung to frame a pleasant view or a cheery striped awning floating above a picture window, homeowners often dress up their windows for beauty rather than function. But with the right materials and proper placement, these decorations might actually help lower your monthly energy bills.

The impact can be significant. According to the United States Department of Energy (DOE), something as simple as a set of medium-colored drapes backed with white plastic reduces solar heat gain by as much as 33 percent.

When the hot months arrive soon, don’t just blast the air conditioning. Explore some of these window treatment ideas instead.

Are Plantation Shutters the Right Choice for Your Windows?

One of my favorite choices for window treatments is the plantation shutter. They are versatile, less expensive than custom draperies, and can increase the value of your home. They are the only window treatment that can be financed into the purchase of your home. Why? Because they are highly desirable and usually stay with the home when it's sold. 

Let's take a look at how Houzz members are using them in their homes.

The best window coverings

Chantal Dauray

Tips on how to use lighting without sacrificing your privacy.
Choosing the right window covering
Your budget, tastes, needs and decorating style, together with the amount of brightness you wish to achieve in the room, will guide your decisions as you consider numerous possibilities. Here are some guidelines.
1 The kitchen. Wood blinds and faux-wood blinds are easier to maintain than pleated blinds or curtains. The more rigid the blinds, the easier they are to clean.
2 The bedroom. For a more restful sleep, an opaque blind is a good choice. It can be concealed behind a valance or dressed up with attractive curtains. Other options are rigid horizontal blinds or fabric blinds combined with some curtains for greater opacity.
3 The living room. If you’re intent on keeping prying eyes out, horizontal
blinds or louvered shutters are your best option, as louveres can be inclined based on your preference for shade or light without the interior being any more visible to passersby. If privacy is not an issue, anything goes! If you
choose drapes, err on the side of simplicity, keeping them in a shade similar
to that of the wall.
4 The bathroom. Horizontal blinds are a sound choice here. However, select a waterproof material (faux wood, for example), particularly if the space is poorly ventilated or the blind is close to the shower stall.
5 French doors. Solar blinds (or perforated blinds) are perfectly suitable, as they reduce the glare and heat from the sun and protect furniture from UV rays. Also popular are light-filtering sunscreens (with Sheerweave) with their Japanese style and the lovely luminosity they confer on large windows.Fabric blinds are a good choice as well.
Windows above electric baseboard heaters
Rather than hemming your curtains so that they hang just above the heater, simply move them away from the heat source with a mounting bracket (available at most hardware stores), which attaches to the baseboard heater. The effect is more elegant. As for blinds, allow a clearance of at least 30 centimetres from the baseboard heater, and if possible, avoid vinyl or plastic-based materials.

How to Pick Blinds for a Child's Bedroom

Hunter Douglas
There are lots of reasons to pick made to measure blinds over curtains when you're furnishing your house. They are often much better at blacking out all the light from a room, and they're also pretty good thermally, as well as giving you a bit of added privacy.
What you might not consider though, is that window dressings, like so many things around the house, can become a hazard to small children. Even the most mundane of objects can become a potential death trap and made to measure blinds aren't excluded from that.
Even though you might want to have blackout made to measure blinds in your nursery, it might not be the best solution unless you think carefully about how the blinds will operate and whether they'll be safe for your little ones.
How can blinds cause injury?
The pull cord which you use to open and close your blinds is one of the main, and most obvious hazards. There are more risks than just that though. If you opt for something like a venetian blind they have cords which hold them together. Because these are much shorter loops than the pull cord itself, it is surprisingly easy for little ones to become entangled in the mechanism. If this happens to be around their neck it just doesn't bare thinking about.
With all those possible hazards, you're going to want to think carefully about the sort of blinds which you choose so that your little ones are nice and safe as well as in a dark room at bedtime.
Safety first
Just because made to measure blinds can be a hazard doesn't mean that they will be, and if you follow our simple steps, it'll be easy to achieve.
We've already identified what some of the main risks are, next you just need to know how to minimise those risks, to make sure that there's almost no way you're little one can end up hurting themselves. You'll sleep much better at night knowing that every area of your house has been thoroughly child proofed, and the chance of an accident in the home has been reduced to almost nothing.
Firstly, make sure your child's bed or baby's cot isn't placed right under the made to measure blinds where possible. Overly long cords which are too close to your child's sleeping place can create an opportunity of entanglement occurring. At night time you're less likely to be checking on them all the time, assuming that they can't get into too much trouble whilst asleep. By the time you check on them the damage could be done.
Instead, make sure you invest in cord cleats for every single adjustment cord around your house, even if it's a room your child isn't meant to go in (they have a bit of a habit of getting in these places as well. You can also shorten the cord itself so it's well out of the reach of little hands.
There are safety devices which you can buy and install into the cord itself which act as a breaker. If too much (more than a little tug) of pressure is applied, these will split, causing the cord to dangle harmlessly in two sections rather than a single problematic loop.
So simple, so easy, and it means you can make sure your little ones are safe and sound at all times.

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