Windows are valued for their transparency, the way their panes allow light in and give us a view of the outdoors. But those same panes are also transparent to heat. In the winter months, we relish the sunlight coming in to warm our bodies and the cool air surrounding us. However, it is a different story during a summer heatwave! Here are some ways to halt that heat gain and be more comfortable when temperatures soar.
Replacement Windows and Other Heatwave Hacks
Solar shades are light-blocking, polyester-coated mesh screens that can be fitted inside or out, either as fixed panels or with retractable roll-up mechanisms. Different types of solar shades come with different mesh counts; the higher the count, the more heat is kept out. However, higher mesh counts also mean the room will be darker and the view more obscured. Solar shades are available in black and white, though black is best suited for outdoor installation. White is preferable for indoors as it stays cooler.
Although awnings are nowadays considered an old-fashioned strategy, they deserve another look. According to the Department of Energy, awnings can decrease solar heat gain by 65 percent on south-facing windows and 77 percent on windows facing west. Awnings are much easier to operate than in the past due to motorized rollers and require less maintenance because of mildew-resistant fabrics.
Apply window film
These unobtrusive plastic films have a metallic, low-emissivity coating that reflects infrared radiation (heat) and are applied directly to the window glass. The best-looking and most durable window films require professional installation. The best window films can also upgrade the efficiency of single-pane glass to the equivalent of a double-pane window.
Low-emissivity films also screen out UV rays, which cause fabrics and finishes to fade. The glass gets darkened from the film somewhat, although the darker films are usually more effective at blocking the heat and keeping your house cool. Take a while to compare looks and performance before you purchase a film so you don’t end up with a living room or other area of your home that is too dim.
Another way to shield interiors from the sun’s rays, swinging shutters can be installed inside or outside and can be opened and closed as needed. Wooden full-size exterior shutters made of wood or fiberglass do an excellent job of blocking heat and light. Interior wood shutters with mobile louvers allow you to regulate how much light gets in.
Light-colored shutters are best for interiors because they won’t absorb heat as easily as darker colors. They are also more effective in bouncing light into a room. The light mirrored in this way doesn’t heat surfaces, and keeps your home cool.
Upgrade your windows
Glass technology has progressed immensely in recent years. Today, windows incorporate permanent heat-reflective Low-E coatings along with insulating properties that stop heat transfer through the panes. It is now much easier to compare window performance, due to standardized testing done by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). NFRC-rated windows have to meet strict limits on air infiltration and heat conduction.
Plant shade trees
Deciduous trees that are large enough to provide shade during the hottest parts of summer perform a valuable cooling function. In winter, trees drop their leaves and give you the benefit of winter sunshine. For obvious reasons, trees are not a fast fix, unlike these other approaches. However, within a decade or two, your investment in these living awnings will pay beautiful dividends.
Pull the shades
Closing the blinds or shades during the heat of the day can slow the heat gain from the sun pouring in the window. Black-out curtains or cellular shades, which are more insulating, can assist even more to redirect sunlight and keep the cooler air in your home.
Consider these hacks to avoid hot air from filling your home this summer. Don’t let a heatwave ruin a cool and comfortable haven to spend time in.
Additional Reading: Stay Cool in the Dog Days of Summer
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