Energy Efficiency

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More homeowners are investing in making their houses energy efficient. Why? One reason is it feels good. We are learning about the negative impact that energy production and use is having on our world. People are increasingly motivated to act. Another reason is economics. With increased choices of energy efficient products, people are choosing the products that reduce energy bills – even if there is a higher upfront capital cost. It’s seen as a worthwhile investment.

As a bonus, many people are surprised to learn that going the energy efficient route doesn’t lead to an uncomfortable lifestyle. Many products that help reduce our energy consumption can add value to our day to day comfort. And many of these products are more economical than the purchase and operation of energy hungry systems.

When discussing energy efficiency in a house, the conversation will inevitably include windows. Windows are a critical part of a pleasant home. Just imaging not having natural light or a comfortable breeze in your living space. Windows also play a key role in heating or cooling a home – whether you plan for it or not!

Windows account for one of the most significant ways that heat enters and exits a house. If not given good thought ahead of time, they can end up heating your home when you don’t want it and cooling your home when it’s already cold, but with good planning, your windows can help you heat your home when you want. This is referred to as passive heating. Passive, in this sense, means natural. It does not mean weak. In fact, this is a very powerful way to heat a house, significantly reducing the reliance on a furnace. Likewise, shade products will keep your home cool when you want, without the aid of an air conditioner.

Drapes have been the most common tool used to prevent light and heat from entering or escaping a house. While drapes, curtains and blinds on the inside of the window help, there are downsides to be considered. First, when wanting to keep heat out, they are blocking sunlight AFTER it comes through the window. This allows heat to build up between the glass and the curtain. This heat radiates into the room. Second, when wanting to keep the heat in, drapes and blinds must be sealed against the window frame to be truly effective. The idea is to create a pocket of undisturbed air between the curtain and the glass, which creates insulating properties. Unfortunately, while drapes, curtains and blinds reduce transfer of heat, they also block the view – one of the most important reasons the window was put there to begin with! Perhaps that’s OK on a cold winter’s night, but most of the time we enjoy being able to see the view out our windows.

There has been significant development in window technology. Today’s high end, triple pane windows block a lot of UV radiation and reduce heat loss. These windows come at a significant cost, and while effective to a degree, they don’t completely block the glare and heat from the sun. The pros and cons of going to triple pane windows should be carefully considered.

If you want to allow sun to shine on your windows and benefit from passive heating, and you if want to prevent sun from shining on your windows so your house stays cool, AND, if you want to continue enjoying the view from your windows, retractable exterior shade products are the way to go. Solaris has a variety of screen, awning and roll shutter products that can be used for your energy efficiency solutions. Make use of the sun when you want, block the sun when you want AND enjoy the view from your window. You will find that not only are you saving significant money on the purchase and maintenance of furnaces and air conditioners, you are creating a comfortable and beautiful living environment – all while reducing your energy usage.