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Window Coverings: Automate, Relax & Save

Windows—even dual or triple glazed windows—leak more energy
than a well-insulated wall; typically much more. They lose heat in cold Window_Controls_illustration_1weather, and let in heat in hot weather. Because we usually want to enjoy the natural light and outdoor view when using the room during daylight hours, we put up with moderate heat loss (or gain) from the windows. And when night-time comes, we want the privacy of closed drapes or shades.

But there is also an up-side to this. When windows let in direct sunlight during the cold months, they provide desired heat—called solar gain. Homes which use passive solar heating take advantage of this principle. They are designed to capture solar gain in the cold months, and keep it out when the outside temperature is too warm. See Solar Energy.

Insulated thermal shades and drapes do an even better job of reducing heat loss in the winter and heat gain in summer. Of course, shades or drapes are also useful for privacy. But opening and closing a houseful of drapes and shades two or more times a day by hand is tedious, repetitive work.

Window_Controls_icon_illustration_2This is where automated motorized window coverings come to the rescue. In addition to optimizing thermal efficiency—and thermal gain (or loss) when advantageous—remotely controlled window coverings are a great convenience. Add an app to you smartphone or tablet, and you can just sit wherever you are, and adjust the shades—from across the room or across the globe. You can even have your smart home expert program them to open and close at sunrise and sunset, or for pre-set weather or temperature conditions, or when solar gain exceeds thermal loss, or whatever you want. How about having them selectively programmed to open and shut while you’re on vacation (coordinated with changes in lighting patterns) to deter burglars?

Depending on your climate and local energy costs, automated window coverings can make a lot of sense—both financially and conservation-wise. They can save money on heating and air conditioning bills—in some areas enough to pay back the initial investment in automated window coverings in just a few years.

And don’t forget the convenience—and reducing your carbon footprint.