Windows, even the most efficient ones, have very little R value. Any solar gain during the day is lost at night if the windows are left exposed. You can lose up to 50% of your heat through your windows. What should one do? There are so many options and they all have their pros and cons.
Homemade interior storm windows are the most cost effective option. Classes are being given on a regular basis in various areas of the state. The major drawbacks to interior storms are summer storage and the inability to open the window with the storms in place.
You can purchase interior plexiglass or glass storm windows. They are more expensive but are also more durable than the homemade interior storms. They are less likely to be damaged in storage.
Another option is to install exterior storm windows. They help insulate, cut down on air infiltration, and can be opened. However, we were not convinced the value would merit the cost on our Andersen windows.
Quilted shades are reputed to work quite well with an impressive R value. You can make them yourself or buy them. Some people report that they work very well. others report that humidity builds up behind them. An Andersen Rep we talked to was not a fan of either the interior storms or the quited shades. His concern was that people wouldn’t keep an eye on them and that heat and humidity would build up and cause damage. We decided against quilted shades. When they are down, the room is pitch black. When they are up, they take up too much space.
We wanted something that is insulating, attractive, and which encroaches minimally into the glass when open. Cellular shades fit that description. The Hunter Douglas Architella Shades even qualify for a tax incentive. The major drawback is the price.
Yes, cellular shades are expensive but there are a variety of manufacturers running promotions.
As the price of oil goes up, the payback time will go down. Based on our research, data provided by the manufacturer, and a certain amount of guesswork on our part, we are expecting to realistically save about 20% on our heating costs. A 10% savings would still be worthwhile.
Quality Is Very Important
You Don’t Need to Buy the Top of The Line to Improve Your Energy Efficiency.
We talked to several suppliers and ended up purchasing cellular shades from Brad Briggs of Budget Blinds. He took the time to educate us about our options, provide us with tangible data, and helped us find a cost effective solution for our needs. Budget Blinds offers an excellent warrantee as well.
We will use homemade interior storms for a few of the windows in the basement.
Now that the shades are in place, we are very happy with them. We chose the light filtering shades and are glad we did. The colors in the light blocking shades are truer at night but we didn’t want to wake up to a dark house. The light filtering shades let in an amazing amount of light. We keep the shades closed in the less used parts of the house to maximize the energy efficiency. There is still plenty of light in those rooms; no need to burn electricity.
The top down/bottom up is also a very nice feature which we would recommend even for small bathroom windows. Cordless shades are great but if you want to save a little money the cords aren’t that bad. Brad adjusts them and cuts the cord to exactly the right length. There is no need to have long cords dragging on the floor.
Update: We’ve had our shades for a year. We have 50+ windows, many of them are large, and we are constantly moving our shades up and down. The cheapest shades would probably not have stood up to the use ours are getting.
Here are some photos of the installation.