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GYR Tips for Windows and Window Coverings

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Our abundant South Florida sunshine is a source of both light and heat. While we love to let the sunshine in, too much of a good thing can overwork our air conditioning systems and drive energy usage up. Knowing which time of day your windows get the most sun exposure is important, and selecting the appropriate coverings and reflectors is equally so. When looking for new windows, choose those with a low solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) — a measure of solar radiation admitted through a window, glass door, or skylight. 

Energy-Efficient Window Treatments

 Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun.

Window coverings such as drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers with white or light backing, create reflective surfaces that bounce heat away from your building. Outdoor awnings or louvers can also reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent. Any of these will allow you to enjoy natural lighting most of the time, and therefore turn off your electric lighting. Just remember to close them when the sun shines through directly. Generally, windows that face south and west receive the most sun and shades should be closed, especially in the late afternoon.  Plan to upgrade your windows, and consider temporary coatings.

Single-paned windows can be replaced with windows that utilize higher performing glass with a low SHGC, such as low-e or those with spectrally selective coatings. Many of these will be combined to provide protection against hurricanes, thereby helping you to lower your energy and windstorm insurance bills at the same time. While you are waiting for window replacement, it is worth looking into the variety of tinted or low-e films that can be applied to your existing windows now to reduce incoming light, and which have been shown to be very effective in Florida. Some even filter out harmful UV rays. Consider quality ratings carefully and always follow manufacturer instructions to be sure you get the best look and optimized function. If your budget is limited, focus on your south and west facing windows. Learn more about Window Performance Ratings.  When you need, or prefer, to leave windows uncovered, consider temporary window reflectors.

They’re not just for cars! An insulating window panel, or pop-in shutter, typically consists of a core of rigid foam board insulation. It reflects heat back outside when the sun hits the window directly during particularly bright hours. You can push or clip it into the interior of a window. The panels are made so that their edges seal tightly against the window frame. Seals can be made from magnetic tape or Velcro. No hardware, such as hinges or latches, is required. If you like, decorative window treatments hide the panels from interior view, and provide additional insulation. Insulating window panels have R-values between 3.8 and 7. They are also fairly inexpensive, whether you buy a kit or make your own. (Yes, you can prepare temporary window reflectors, such as aluminum foil-covered foam board.) Private companies also provide removable reflective film kits to cover windows seasonally.

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