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What shades are energy efficient?

March 22, 2023

What shades are energy efficient?

What shades are energy efficient?

Homeowners often underestimate the impact that window coverings have on how much energy your home uses. As governments offer more and more tax incentives and rebates to encourage people to make their houses more energy efficient, you may be looking for creative ways to improve your own home’s efficiency. The good news is that your window coverings can make a huge difference in your energy use, and can lower your energy bills and also help you be eligible for financial incentives. Let’s look at how window coverings can impact energy efficiency, and at what types of blinds and shades are most energy efficient.

How do window treatments impact energy efficiency?

Window coverings help with a home’s energy efficiency in these ways:

  • providing insulation
  • controlling solar heat gain
  • using natural light to reduce the use of electric light (called daylighting)


In winter, or if you live in a cool climate, window treatments help insulate your home by creating a buffer between the warm air in your house, and the cold glass of a window. Try putting your hand between a window shade and the glass on a cold day: the air between the shade and the window will be noticeably colder than the air in the rest of the room. This is because air is very bad at conducting energy, so while the air behind the shade is against the window and gets colder, it will protect the warmer room air from losing its heat.

Insulation is also useful in reverse: that pocket of air between the shade and the window can help keep a room cool on a hot day, by preventing heat energy from being transmitted in.

Solar heat gain

Sunlight warms up air in enclosed spaces by radiation. You will know this if you’ve ever gotten into a car on a hot sunny day: the inside of the car can be unbearably hot after only a few minutes, and much hotter than the outside air. You can use solar heat gain to your advantage in two ways, using your window coverings.

  1. You can open up your blinds or shades to let sunlight into a room, which will warm it up.
  2. You can close your window treatments to block the sun out and keep a room cool.


Natural light illuminating a room can make it more inviting, and may even boost your mood at the same time. You can maximize natural light with window treatments that draw it into a room, reducing the need for electric light. This will reduce your energy use.

You may be thinking that the types of window treatments that improve insulation and reduce solar heat gain, are going to be a barrier to daylighting. You’re not wrong! For this reason, many people use two different types of window treatments together, such as a blackout shade and a sheer curtain, in order to take advantage of all three types of energy efficiency.

Energy efficient window treatments

There are an almost endless variety of window treatments out in the world for you to choose from. How on earth are you going to decide? Well, an easy place to start is to get a sense of your budget, and then decide if you want to combine window treatments to get the most energy efficiency, or if you want to invest in a high-quality covering that can meet all three needs. As energy efficiency becomes a core value for homeowners, many window treatment manufacturers are creating new products that can help with insulation, solar heat gain, and daylighting. What are the pros and cons of each approach?

Combining window treatments:

  • Pros:
    • You can truly customize your window coverings, because you will be able to chose each element separately
    • You may save money by being able to use two cheaper products instead of one expensive one
    • You can change out one of the window coverings seasonally to improve energy efficiency. For example, you may have a blackout shade and a curtain on one window. In the winter, you can put up a gauze curtain to maximize daylighting and solar heat gain while keeping privacy, while in the summer you can have a thicker curtain to protect against solar heat gain.
  • Cons:
    • You effectively are doubling the number of window treatments you need to buy, so you may not save money
    • You have to deal with several different mounting systems and maintenance needs.
    • You will not be eligible for certain rebates

Single-product energy efficient shades:

  • Pros:
    • Many have been tested and certified as energy efficient, by independent certifiers. This may mean that you can qualify for certain rebates and tax incentives. This also gives you confidence that you are getting the energy savings you want.
    • One mounting system
    • Visually unified: if you prefer sleek, simple design, you will want a single product.
  • Cons:
    • Can be quite expensive, both to purchase and install, and to repair if they break

What kinds of energy efficient window treatments are there?

Let’s look at two of the most popular new designs for energy efficient window coverings: modern Roman shades, and cellular shades.

  • Modern Roman shades: Roman shades are known for their luxurious pleated look, and are chosen when people want a simple, classy window treatment. Modern Roman shades can be manufactured with a sheer or translucent main shade as well as an opaque back panel, that can be raised or lowered as needed for protection from solar heat gain, increased insulation, or increased daylighting.
  • Cellular Shades: Cellular shades are the top insulating window treatment because they have a honeycomb structure that traps air within the shade as well as behind it. They are also extremely versatile and can be installed on skylights, sliding glass doors, and other hard-to-cover windows.

Choosing window coverings that will help you improve your home’s energy efficiency is an important decision. While investing in certified, modern shades may cost more up front, you may see serious savings in your energy bills and in rebates down the line.