It gets very chilly near our windows. Are window coverings, like insulating shades, very effective and are they worth the expense? Are there any extra-efficient shades that I can make myself? M.M.
A - Good-quality insulating window shades are extremely effective. They can reduce the heat loss through your windows by as much as 75%. In addition to cutting your utility bills, they can make you much more comfortable by blocking the radiant heat loss from your body to the cold glass. On summer days, they also block much of the heat gain.
The least expensive, yet effective, option is a do-it-yourself multi-layer super-insulating Roman shade. By using the proper type of insulating fill and interior radiant barriers, the energy efficiency is greatly improved.
To make this super-insulating Roman shade, sew several layers of high Rvalue insulating fill material into a radiant barrier film shell. Then put this entire insulating core inside an envelope of fabric to complement your room's decor.
Attach eyelets on the back while quilting the shade. The drawstrings are feed through these eyelets to raise and lower the shade. Then screw it to wooden support pieces and mount it to the frame of your window.
For added energy savings, you can mount decorative side strips to hold it tightly against your wall when it's down. This provides a more-airtight seal to block the room air from contacting the cold window glass.
Another option is purchasing insulating shades or shutters. The shutters offer the greatest energy savings, especially at night. Leave them open in the day on the south and west sides to gain the sun's direct heat and reduce the need to switch on your electric lights.
One new type of insulating shade is designed to allow you to change the fabric covering anytime. The fabric covering is mounted on a separate spring-loaded mini-roller. When you raise or lower the shade, the fabric cover remains taut and appears to be part of the insulating shade.
Although trickier to install than shades, you can install insulating shutters yourself. You'll need a drill, screwdriver, stapler, and hammer.
Be sure to properly align them with the window frame. This minimizes the free flow of your heated room air against the cold window glass.
Before purchasing any shades or shutters, check some actual installations in homes. Most dealers will show you several. Small-scale sales samples often can be misleading in appearance and easy of operation.
You can write to me for a UTILITY BILLS UPDATE No. 002 showing do-it-yourself instructions, diagrams, and materials list for making this superinsulating Roman shade and a list of manufacturers of insulating shades. Write to James Dulley, The Deseret News, 6906 Royal Green Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244. Please include $1.00 and a self-addressed STAMPED BUSINESS-SIZE envelope.
Q - I have attic turbine vents to help keep my house cool in the summer. Should I cover them in the winter to block out the cold air? T.K.
A - Your attic needs to be ventilated in the winter too in order to remove water vapor transferred from the house below. If your house is fairly airtight and you have adequate attic insulation, the cold air movement in your attic should not increase the heat loss.
The only reason to cover a turbine vent is if your area gets heavy snow falls which can build up and cover the vent. When it melts, it can leak in. Then you will need to install other vents for the winter.