How to Use Bedroom Window Treatments to Beat the Heat This Summer

The entire concept of “beating the heat” conjures up images of cold drinks, backyard pools or lazy afternoons spent lakeside. But there’s an effective way to stay cool much closer to home: namely, by installing window treatments designed to keep hot weather outside and maintain a comfortable temperature inside.

How Heat Travels

A bit of science explains why certain window treatments work so well to keep out the heat. Basically, heat flows three different ways. Conductive heat moves through materials (think of how heat from a boiling pot of water heats up the pot handle); convective heat travels through liquids and gasses (it’s how hot air rises) and radiant heat progresses in a straight line, warming up anything in its path that’s able to absorb that heat.

Insulating window treatments stop the flow of conductive and convective heat—and radiant barrier window treatments have reflective material to push radiant heat back where it came from. In its simplest terms: one type cuts heat by absorbing it in, the other by sending it out.

The R-Rating System

Insulating products of all kinds, including window treatments, get an R rating that illustrates how well they resist heat—the “R” actually stands for resistance.The higher the R rating, the better it blocks the heat. Window treatments usually fall in the R-0- to R-3 range, so anything higher than 3 has excellent heat-fighting results. (The R-rating system doesn’t apply to radiant barrier treatments.)

Beating Heat, Saving Energy

Not surprisingly, the best-rated insulating window treatments cut energy costs in summer as well as winter. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that about 76% of sunlight that falls on standard double-pane windows enters the house as heat. Another summer pitfall: An estimated 75% of home window coverings stay in the same position all day, every day, according to one study. So unless shades or blinds are adjusted to block out sun during peak hours, additional heat is able to make its way through the windows.

With that in mind, here are four kinds of window treatments that are really standout performers when it comes to beating the heat in summer:

  • Cellular Shades are well known for their exceptionally good insulation qualities. Each shade contains a series of collapsible, air-filled structures known as open cells which actually trap air. In summer, the shade literally “holds” the hot air coming in through the window, preventing it from seeping into your bedroom; it also prevents cooled indoor air from leaking out. Cellular shades have R-ratings of 3.5 to 3.7, some of the highest rankings in the window treatment category.
  • Lined Blackout Draperies don’t just block out the sun’s heat: they can also prevent those drapes from fading. Contrary to the name, blackout fabric isn’t necessarily black, or even dark. The fabric itself has a core layer of black sunblock material built right in. Lined blackout draperies are easy to open and close—and like any good insulating material, they work to keep energy costs down by making your home cooler—so the air conditioner won’t have to work as hard.
  • Solar Shades with a Reflective Backing reflect any heat coming in windows back out of the living space; this is one of the most popular kinds of radiant barrier window treatments. This reflective backing is actually a metalized coating; like insulating treatments, this barrier method also saves on your energy bill.
  • KoolBlack™, first introduced in 2012, is a special dark-colored fabric available on window shades that reflects heat back outside. Traditionally, dark colors absorb heat and hold it in; KoolBlack is a technological advancement designed to absorb less heat, so it saves energy and keeps indoor space more comfortable.

A bonus: Certain window treatments—such as cellular shades and lined blackout draperies—don’t just beat the heat in summer but also help cut the chill during colder winter months. So it’s a real win-win.

Want to learn more about how window treatments can make rooms more comfortable while also saving energy? Contact us today for a free design consultation.