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Window tips for keeping the summer heat out

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magellan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-27-07 10:39 PM
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Window tips for keeping the summer heat out
We live in FL, where at one week into spring it's already in the 80s. We also live in a mobile home -- notoriously poorly insulated structures. Watching our electricity bills soar for a solid 6 months a year made us knuckle down a while back to keep our home as cool as possible without taxing the a/c and our wallet. Here are our frugal tips for taking care of a bad source of radiant heat: your windows.

  1. Stopping the heat before it gets through your windows is the #1 most efficient thing you can do. That means planting shade trees or large shrubs around your house, and/or putting up awnings if you're allowed. (We aren't.)
  2. Film your windows. Gila heat-blocking film can be bought at Lowes or the like and it's pretty easy to install, if a little time-consuming. Definitely a two-person job. Rolls are around $45 per; we did 11 big windows with two rolls. And there's no need to go total black-out with it. We used the platinum which cuts radiant heat up to 70% and affords a little day-time privacy, but still looks smart.
  3. Put up mini blinds. There are all sorts that help to insulate, but even cheap plain white blinds can do a lot. We keep them closed during the day on whichever side of the house the sun is on. HINT: closing them the wrong way -- so the blades are turned up and in -- keeps more sun out than closing them the right way.
  4. Get insulated or heavy curtains for south- and west-facing windows, which take the brunt of the sun's heat over the day. Keep those curtains closed while the sun's beating down.
  5. This is particularly good for south- and west-facing windows: use foil-backed insulation to cover the window from the inside. My husband and I have offices on these sides of the house and they get STIFLING during the summer, even with the a/c going. This year I added REFLECTIX Foil Insulation to our office windows and the difference is dramatic. You may need a fastener, like velcro, to keep the insulation up if your windows aren't niched like ours; otherwise this particular brand of insulation molds into the space and stays put on its own. About $20 for a 4' x 15' roll (covered two windows, which was all we needed).

Of course you can also replace single-pane windows with double-glazed (I forget what they're called here in the US), but that's very expensive. This list is for those who are like me and want to DIY on a shoestring! :)
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-28-07 03:43 PM
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1. thanks for the suggestions
I have to add awnings since the heat gain is really appreciated in the winter months, but I need to shade them in summer

heavy drapes is on my list bigtime

a trick I learned in my windy state with old windows that leak air like mad is to use cheap painters (blue) tape to close off the places the air gets through

the tape is easy to remove to open the windows when I need to but acts as a stopper for the wind when it's whistling through
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NJCher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-17-07 10:56 PM
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2. excellent suggestions
Thank you for taking the time to write them up for us!

It is only now getting warm enough here in Jersey that we have to take these steps. My husband lived in Italy for 21 years and as you know, they are not big on AC there so they have tricks like these to help them deal with the heat.

We close up our windows before the heat starts and we use insulated draperies like you describe. It makes so much difference. Outside it can be blazing hot but inside this house it is so cool. Trees tower over it.

A decade ago when we bought this house, my husband took measures with tree and vegetative planting to keep the place cool in summer and warm in winter. For example, on the west side of the house was an asphalt parking area. This stuff absorbs the heat and radiates it back to the house. In the summer it is incredibly hot. He put up an arbor and we planted wisteria there. Now it shades the asphalt and is beautiful to look out on.

Per your suggestion, I'm going to try Reflectix.


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eleny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-18-07 08:05 PM
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3. We got some attic exhaust fans late last summer
Now that the warm season is beginning we're getting a good idea of how much less we'll be using our air conditioners this summer. They're hardly ever on, go on later in the day and the thermostats are set to a much higher temp than in past years.

Shielding those hot/cold spot windows can make all the difference. Many years ago I got some cute insulated muslin curtains from the Country Curtains catalog. I had the cafes topped off with tiebacks. Those were the early years when we had the drafty windows and aluminum storms. The insulated curtains helped enormously on both the north and south sides of the house. I think we used those curtains for over 20 years since they held up well in the wash. Luckily we liked the style. I see that they've expanded that line.
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DrDan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-19-07 06:10 AM
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4. just one word of caution on tinting double-glazed windows
do not tint on the inside.

My wife and I purchased a home where the previous owner had done this. We knew we would have to replace 4 windows when we purchased it, but did know why the windows looked very very dirty. Turns out the seal was broken.

The tint reflects the heat - which in turn raises the temperature of the air between the panes of glass. This will break the seal and ruin the windows.
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Jim Warren Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-19-07 07:56 PM
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5. good tip there, thanks nt
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NJCher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-07 04:37 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. glad I checked back!
Edited on Fri Jun-29-07 04:38 AM by NJCher
Thanks, DrDan.

Also a tip I got from my father. Elms are not good trees to have protecting your house. He said he had to remove one because of the sap it secreted. It made his light gray roof ugly and dirty looking. He replaced it with an ash.

Well....guess who has an elm taking over where a dogwood is aging next to the house? Yeah. Now I'd better make plans for another type of tree.

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