Reduce Home Energy Costs with Solar Shades
Saving money on home energy bills can be a challenge when hot, sunny days increase our dependence on air conditioning. According to Consumer Reports, “Americans spend more than $22 billion a year…to cool their homes with air conditioning” (July 2008). Reducing our need to turn on the home cooling system is possible with the simple and inexpensive addition of solar window shades, also known as sun shades, to our windows and doors.
Solar shades are quite different from standard window shades and offer a number of benefits that go beyond lowering home cooling costs. Sun shades are constructed using a specially designed, breathable fabric that allows light and air to filter through. Sun shades are not black-out shades, but they do reduce the amount of direct sunlight that streams in through a home’s windows and sliding doors or French doors. Unlike interior window shades, solar shades are installed on the outside of a home’s windows or doors. This prevents up to 75% of sunlight from penetrating the window and significantly lessens the heat transfer. Solar shades can reduce a room’s temperature by up to 25%, making the indoor environment inviting and pleasant, even on the hottest summer days.
Sun shades not only make our homes cooler, thereby saving us money on air conditioning costs, they protect our indoor furnishings from the destructive effects of the sun’s ultra-violet (UV) rays. Over time, UV rays will discolor, fade, and crack the various materials we keep in our homes. Fabrics, furniture, upholstery, carpets, paintings, and more are negatively affected by exposure to sunlight. Damage increases over time, too, so the more sun exposure our home interiors experience, the more our belongings will suffer the consequences. The specialized fabric in solar shades can block up to 90% of the sun’s UV rays and protect our interior spaces.
In addition to being breathable and able to block significant amounts of UV rays, sun shades are easy to maintain; they are weather resistant, mildew resistant, and can be quickly cleaned with warm water and a mild detergent. Sun shades offer the benefit of privacy, as well. The breathable fabric allows us to see out of the windows and doors, but neighbors and passers-by are unable to see into the home.
Saving money on air conditioning costs would be reason enough to install solar window shades on our homes, but the additional benefits described here — protection of interior furnishings from UV rays, easy maintenance, and privacy — make sun shades an even more attractive home improvement option.