Cooling your home in the summer is a love-hate relationship. It’s great to have that comfortable sanctuary from the blazing heat outdoors, but it comes at a high price tag.
Solar screens, solar shades, and solar blinds are three options that can help lower your cooling bill by preventing the sun from heating the inside of your home.
All three are simple and inexpensive to install on your own. We’ll explore the three options and help you decide which is best for you.
What Are Solar Screens And How Do They Work?
Solar screens are a special type of window screen that diffuses the sunlight, blocking the solar energy from reaching and heating the inside of your home.
These special window screens are made from a type of dark and durable outdoor fabric, typically polyester reinforced with vinyl. The dark weave provides extra privacy in the daytime without blocking your view or natural light.
Solar screens work in conjunction with your air conditioner, helping it to work more efficiently.
Are Solar Screens Effective?
Yes, solar screens are effective. Manufacturers say they keep your home 10-15 degrees colder by blocking solar energy from heating the inside of your home.
Solar screens aren’t a replacement for an air conditioner, rather they work with it to create a more efficient cooling system. In the winter, you simply remove them and replace them with standard window screens.
Screens are especially effective at slashing energy bills when they’re installed on windows facing east and west, according to the Department of Energy.
Installing solar screens is a simple do-it-yourself project. A roll of solar screen typically costs around $50 at your favorite home improvement store.
The biggest disadvantage to installing solar screens is that they are on the outside of your windows. If you live in an area that frequently gets damaging storms, you may want to consider an option that is inside your home. Solar screens are also not especially effective at insulating your home from heat loss in the winter months.
Solar shades and solar blinds work in a similar way in that they reflect the sun’s radiation and prevent it from warming your home.
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What Are Solar Shades?
Solar shades typically have a light colored heat reflecting side and a dark colored heat absorbing side.
Unlike solar screens, you can reverse your solar shades in winter to keep your home insulated and drive down expensive heating costs.
These should be mounted close to the glass, kept close to the wall, and remain down all day to get the greatest insulating benefit. In the winter, shades on the south side of the house should be raised during the day and lowered at night, according to the Department of Energy.
In the winter, you’ll need to reverse your solar shades. The light side should face the outside during the summer so it repels the heat, and inside during the winter to keep the warm air from escaping to the outside.
While solar shades both reflect and absorb the sun’s heat, they also block more natural light and window views than solar screens.
Solar shades start around $25 at your favorite home improvement store. Like solar screens and solar blinds, installation is easy.
What Are Solar Blinds?
Solar blinds are similar to solar screens, and the terms are often used interchangeably. The main difference is that the individual slats on solar blinds can be adjusted to your preferences.
Like solar screens, solar blinds are more effective at keeping heat out in the summer than preventing heat loss in the winter.
The main advantage of choosing solar blinds over screens or shades is their adjustability. You can adjust the slats to control the amount of light and ventilation you want to reach your home.
When solar blinds are completely closed and lowered on a sunny window, they can reduce heat gain by about 45%, according to the Department of Energy. Additionally, blinds can be adjusted to reflect sunlight onto a light-colored ceiling that will diffuse the light without adding heat or glare.
Which Solar Option Is Best For Me?
Whether solar screens, solar shades, or solar blinds is your best option depends on your individual needs and climate.
Solar screens are likely your best option if you live in an area that’s warm in the summer, but pleasant in the winter. They keep your electric bill low in the summer, while allowing for natural heating in the winter.
Solar shades are likely your best option if you live somewhere that is hot in the summer, but cold in the winter. Unlike the other two options, shades work equally well year-round at making the sun’s heat work for you.
Solar blinds are likely your best option if you live in a more temperate environment. Blinds are efficient year-round, but work best at keeping solar energy out of your home.
Are you going to use solar window treatments? Let us know in the comments, and find out how a solar pool heater can slash your summer electric bills even further.