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Beat the heat with Reflective Window Shades

February 14, 2006
If you have windows that face the summer sun, you know how much heat can pour into your home on a hot day. Luckily, there are some very effective ways you can stay cooler and reduce your utility costs by keeping some of this sun out of your home.
Reflective window shades and blinds have come a long way in recent years. Some of these reflective shades and blinds can be mounted outdoors where they block more solar heat than indoor installations. The best reflective shades and blinds block a maximum of up to 75% of solar heat when installed indoors and up to 100% when installed outdoors.
You'll receive the greatest benefits from reflective window coverings if you install them on windows that get a lot of sun. These might face east, where the low morning sun starts to heat your house. They might face south, though on some homes the high noon sun isn't at the right angle to actually enter your windows. Or you might choose to install shades on the west side of your home, where the low, hot afternoon sun really heats up.
There are also many types of self-adhesive window films on the market that can be applied directly to the interior of your existing window glass. Use these films on your hottest windows, perhaps in combination with window shades. Although some window films darken the window, newer types provide shading without reducing visible light much. To be effective, the film must be a metalized type. Non-metalized films don't block enough solar heat to be cost-effective.
Exterior sun screens also come in reflective varieties in addition to the standard colors and black. Reflective sun screens reflect solar heat rather than absorbing it and are more effective at reducing temperatures of your windows in hot weather.