Monday, June 28, 2010

Saga of the Solar Shades

This week and several weeks to come we are engaged in home improvements, which may reduce energy use for heating/cooling, or possibly improve property value.

The past week was the installation of solar shades.

Since the 1000 Year Great Ice Storm of 2009 when we lost all the significant shade trees on our property, our home and occupants have broiled in the summer as the air conditioner struggled to keep up with the relentless heat invasion through our eight--make that 12--windows. We had 4 sets of two windows side and side.

 Plus one inhabitant in this household insists the front door be open most of the day, and at least one vertical shade open all day. Both preferences allow the sun's energy to permeate our living space with record speed.

The heat also comes down the through-two-roofs vent pipe for our range (ceramic stove) hood. I found putting the range hood on the very lowest speed during the hottest late afternoon hours curtails the heat transfer.

In the past we replaced the house's original windows with double paned windows, which helped somewhat. We installed vertical blinds which blocked some energy transfer, when closed.

The HVAC unit runs constantly in the late afternoon from about 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. It cannot keep up with the infiltration; the thermostat reads 3 degrees above the 77 degree setting.

Master Bathroom
Solar Shade
So we opted for solar shades. These roll-up shades remind me of my parents' and grand-parents' window treatments before Venetian blinds became the trend in the '40s at my house.

Remember the Venetian wood slats? Guess what! I was assigned the chore of dusting them. At my home windows were exceedingly tall as we had 10' ceilings, maybe higher as I remember. Short-legged and short armed moi had to climb on chairs and stand on tip-toes to reach the highest slat to dust. I dusted every slat, all three sections, the valence and cords, etc.--no wonder I am allergic to dust.

This rose/vase sits in the win-
dow window box. Photo is made
through the solar shade inside
the house giving it an ethereal
feeling, similar to using filters
with camera lens.
A year ago I ordered a solar shade for a window box in front of the Kitchen sink. I was impressed with its characteristics including how much solar energy blocked. Once a thriving group of succulent plants, the window box plants wilted and died under the unrelenting summer sun, which had been shielded by a beautiful 100 year old red oak tree.

I order solar shades from Lowe's June 11 the order arrived at my front door June 18 and installers were here June 23rd in the afternoon. After two hours m/l they were gone. If we had tried to install ourselves, I would not be writing this article. We'd still be installing.

Master Bedroom Windows
Outside - Daytime
There are several options in solar materials. We chose a bronze/silver material with characteristics of 91% glare reduction, 85% solar energy reduction, 99 % UV rejection.

One feature peculiar to this material is during DAYLIGHT hours nobody can see through the windows from OUTSIDE, although we can see outside. The silver side faces outside and reflects/blocks light. (I've made pictures through this material, which look a bit dreamy.) 

Master Bedroom Solar Shades + Vertical Blinds
(inside).Temps in this room is now 3-5 deg. less.
At night, if lights are on inside the house, one can see in the windows, although not very detailed. But we are adding verticals, too, so we won't be seen running around the house in our bunny suits. HA! HA!

Now we are remounting the verticals which will further block the sun's energy, etc. We are also hoping this window treatment will retain heat more efficiently in the winter.

Homeowner installers  leaves messes;
There is always tomorrow for cleanup!
Remounting vertical blinds is not progressing speedily or efficiently as the installers, so we have cayuse around the house! I dread my housekeeper's remarks this Friday. She is not fond of working around messes.

This traumatized Luckie as she had to isolated in a room as the installers did not need her underfoot. She sulked the rest of Wednesday afternoon after the installers left. Spoiled rotten dog!

During this past week I had two exercise classes, Police Auxiliary meeting, City Council and Friday shopping for custom sized vertical blind rails, and groceries. WHEW! too much for an old lady.

But I found time to eat a banana! HA! HA! Just wanted you to know I have my priorities straight...FOOD rules.
How about that ambient backlight
nearly matching the banana skins!


Dimple said...

The windows look wonderful so far, I'm glad they are helping. Too bad shade trees take so long to grow...
Love the banana shot, it's beautiful!
Word verification is "readr," and that's what I am!
Have a great day, and I hope you get the mess under control before the cleaning lady comes!

Small City Scenes said...

I really like the solar shades. Not only good looking but actually work. A nice look from the outside too.
We whine about the heat when and if it ever get up to 80+ degrees here. We had better say we are happy with what we have. So sad to lose trees anytime.
Eat your bananas--they are good for you. LOL MB

Linda said...

I am very impressed by the energy saving shades. I cannot stand to live in a room where I cannot see outside. This looks like just the thing. In Texas I always felt more housebound in the summer than in the winter. Heat is a cruel monster to deal with.

Arkansas Patti said...

Hope Luckie's nose is back in joint.
Good idea with the shades. I use the sunblock shades plus the blinds which means I have a pretty dark house if effecient. I put a ton of insulation in my attic which has done wonders. Even in this heat with no trees, my A/A runs very little. Wrap around porch helps also.
However, think I will look into those solar shades so I can get more light in here. Cave living is cool but boring. Thanks for the idea.

lakeviewer said...

Great improvement in your air-conditioning area. How long will another tree take to get to the height of the fallen one?

faye said...

Great job with the windows.
Love the bananas photo... now I
am hungry ( thank you ).

Luckie has the right idea.!

Lorna said...

We've got solar shades too, and I love them. but we only have 4 windows in our whole apartment. It was still shockingly expensive.

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Oh honey when did you fall! I was so upset when I read your comment. Please let me know what your test show and whatever you do take it easy.
I am still upset that I did not know about my breaks for three weeks. I had to go to a funeral today for an Uncle and it took me hours just to get dressed so I am still a long way from where I should be by now.
Your post was very interesting to me because you know this old house I live in I freeze in the winter and hot in the summer. In my front room I have the old timey white pull down shades. She likes to keep the look of the old days I wonder if what you have would work for me. I have to do some research.
Please take it easy and I pray you will be up and around soon

Liz said...

You need blinds against the heat?!! Wow, it must be really hot where you live.

Poor Luckie. I bet she just wanted to be helpful too!