Adaptation – Volume 4 – Window Coverings to Lower Your Utility Bills

As electric and gas prices increase, we often find our most costly monthly expenses to be our utility bills!

If climate change indeed increases the periods of hot weather as well as cold weather you should pay attention to what methods are available to help save energy.  In order to moderate these expenses there are lots of cost saving modifications you can make to your house!

Are your energy bills too high?

Are your energy bills too high?

When it gets Hot, your windows can make your south facing rooms feel like a greenhouse!  North facing rooms can seem like an icehouse! (in the Northern Hemisphere at least)

When I was a kid in Vermont I remember scratching my name in the frost that formed on the inside of my single pane windows in my room.  I thought it was normal that frost formed inside a window when it was 20 below zero outside!  Now that I live in Arizona it’s the other way around…

You could write your name on this window!

You could write your name on this window!

So what can we do to moderate the heat and cold?

Here are a few simple ways to cut down the heat and cold and reduce your monthly utility bills.

1)  Thermal Shades

So what do you do when the summer sun heats those south facing rooms of your house so much that you don’t want to go in those rooms?  Insulate the windows!  Mother Earth news has a good article on homemade thermal window shade.  Although the ones shown in the article would never pass muster with my fashion conscious wife, Mother Earth goes on to explain you can adjust the fabric to one you do like!

With simple concepts like using velcro to attach the sides to the window sills you can keep your room warmer or cooler by up to 15 degrees!

2)  What about thermal screens?

In the warmer climates, thermal screens are the way to go.  When you install full screens on your exposed windows, you can block and reflect thermal energy before it comes into your home!  Read the following article concerning screens.  Most window and screen companies can direct you on how you can have these custom made for your house.  The cost will vary with the size of window you are covering but shouldn’t be over $50 or 100 for most windows!

3) How about window films?

“Watch your energy bill fade, not your furniture! and “Windows make up 28% of your cooling load!” Those are quotes that the 3M company make to help sell you window film.  3M is a leading manufacturer of window films and they provide one method that is fairly cost effective and quick to install.

Window Film is easy and effective

Window Film is easy and effective

4) Even Curtains and pull down shades can work! provides an article on 9 low-cost ways to insulate windows and doors.  These are age old methods that have been used by our parents and our parents parents.  Or at least some of them!  The bottom line is block drafts and insulate your windows!

5)  If you don’t have dual pane windows it can be a problem.

Dual pane windows are pretty much standard any more.  However if you have an older home dating back 30 years or more you still may have single panes.  The solution to this situation can be expensive.  Dual pane windows at a 4′ X 4″ size can run $200-300 dollars not to mention the installation costs.  If you are able to afford to renovate your home this will be fairly expensive.  You may want to search on line for any government rebates that could help  you out.

Check out the governmental energy rebate site and use it’s filters to find out if you can qualify for a rebate!

Check out the Government Energysaver website and see what various techniques they recommend.

Whose Responsibility is it to make sure your home is energy efficient?

Of course it’s the homeowners responsibility, however most utility companies will provide assistance if you contact them.  They can send a specialist out that will inspect your home to see where you can best stop the drafts and make your home more efficient when it comes to heating and cooling.

APS offers a service for $99!

SRP also can assist for $99!

If you think you pay too much for your heating and cooling you can always implement some of the simple things first before getting an energy audit.  Try insulating your windows and doors first, that’s the simplest and cheapest.  If you feel you need to do more, window film or thermal screens will always help reflect heat away from your home.  Please consider the costs vs. the benefits before you do any improvements!

 It’s never too late to start!


About rsingram

Environmental Specialist, Disaster Reservist, Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control, Para-Archeologist
This entry was posted in Climate Change, Energy Bills, Environmental Policies, Thermal Window Covers and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Adaptation – Volume 4 – Window Coverings to Lower Your Utility Bills

  1. GeorgeS says:

    Great cost conscious and effective ideas.

    I have a 22X8′ window in my green house with cheap single pain windows. I used a similar method as the insulating curtains you discussed. We got bed spreads/ quilts from the thrift store and made our own roll down shades with velcro to hold them tight against the wall at night. This was an almost zero cost option.

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