Energy saving tips to make your home more energy efficient

Abi Clewley

BY Abi Clewley

Published: 15 September 2023 Updated: 21 May 2024

As the seasons change, so do our comfort needs within our homes. With the advent of autumn and winter, the battle to keep our living spaces warm and cosy begins anew. One area that often gets overlooked in the quest for energy efficiency is our windows. Surprisingly, windows are a major source of heat loss in homes, leading to higher energy bills and a larger carbon footprint. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve deep into the world of thermal window dressing solutions to help you transform your home into an energy-efficient haven.

Heat Loss through Windows and Your Home

Let's start with some cold, hard facts. Studies by institutions like Salford University (1), English Heritage (2), Historic Environment Scotland (3) and Fraunhofer (4) report have shown that windows are a significant contributor to heat loss in residential buildings. Inefficient windows can be responsible for up to 18% of a home's heat loss. Understanding these statistics is the first step towards realising the importance u value of improving your windows' thermal performance.

HIL ROLLER No Blind Dower2 Landscape

Benefits of Improving Your Home's Energy Efficiency

The benefits of enhancing your home's energy efficiency are multifaceted. Not only does it save money and lead to a reduction in your energy bills, but it also lessens your environmental impact by lowering carbon emissions. We'll explore how investing in energy-efficient solutions can yield substantial long-term savings while helping protect the planet.

Natur Rain Iron No Curtain 1

Understanding heat loss through windows

Understanding how windows lose heat is the first step in being able to tackle the problem. To combat heat lost at windows effectively, you can invest in energy-efficient windows, improve insulation around window frames, and consider the use of window dressings like thermal blinds or thermal shutters. These measures will not only enhance your everyday comfort but also lead to energy savings and a reduced carbon footprint. By minimising heat loss at windows, you can create a cosier, more energy-efficient home.

HIL ROLLER No Blind Portrait Dowre 6

Conduction: the silent thief of heat

Conduction is one of the primary mechanisms through which heat is lost at windows. It occurs when heat travels through a solid material, such as window glass and window frames, due to differences in temperature. Here's how it works:

• Cold Outdoor Temperatures
During the winter months, the outdoor air is usually colder than the indoor air.
• Temperature Difference
Because of this temperature difference, heat inside your home naturally wants to move towards the colder outdoor environment.
• Windows as Conductors
Windows, especially those with single-pane glass or poorly insulated frames, act as conductors. They allow heat to flow from the warmer indoor space to the colder outdoors.

As a result of all these things, your home loses heat through the windows, making it more challenging and expensive to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.

TS FITTER BLINDS INSTALLATION (10)

Radiant heat loss: an invisible escape route

Radiant heat loss is another significant contributor to heat loss at windows. This process occurs when heat energy is emitted in the form of electromagnetic waves, primarily in the infrared spectrum. Here's how radiant heat loss happens:

• Indoor Heat Sources
In your home, various heat sources, such as radiators, heaters, or even sunlight, warm up the interior surfaces and objects.
• Emission of Infrared Heat
These warm surfaces then emit heat in the form of infrared radiation towards the colder surfaces, which often includes windows.
• Transparent to Infrared
Most types of window glass are transparent to infrared radiation. Therefore, they allow the radiant heat to pass through them, transferring warmth from inside to outside.

This phenomenon can make rooms near windows feel cooler, even when the air temperature around existing windows is maintained at a comfortable level.

Temperature Control (Romans)

Air leakage: the draughty dilemma

In addition to conduction and radiant heat loss, air leakage around window frames and doors can account for a considerable percentage of everyday heat lost. Drafts occur when outdoor air infiltrates your home through gaps, cracks, or poorly sealed windows. These drafts introduce cold air into your living space, forcing your heating system to work harder to maintain the desired temperature.

TS FITTER BLINDS INSTALLATION (5)

Single vs. double glazing: the insulation factor

The type of glass in your window frames plays a significant role in heat loss. Single-pane windows offer minimal insulation and are more susceptible to conduction and radiant heat loss. In contrast, double-glazed windows consist of two panes separated by an insulating layer of air or gas. This design reduces heat transfer, making them more energy-efficient and effective at retaining indoor heat.

Natur Rain Sunshine Roman APP2

Frame materials: a matter of efficiency

Window frames also contribute to heat loss. Traditional window frames made of materials like aluminium are highly conductive and can facilitate heat transfer to solid walls. In contrast, a modern window frame constructed from materials such as uPVC, timber, or fiberglass provides better insulation, reducing heat loss around the window perimeter.

TS 2021 SERVICE SOFTS DESIGN CONSULTANCY VISIT SALLY HURMAN WINDOW MEASURE 01

What thermal products are available?

There are thermal solutions for an enormous range of products, for every style of window and for every setting, be it blinds or shutters, so let's take a deeper dive into the individual products and their benefits.

Shutters

Window shutters have the benefit of working well in every season and autumn is no exception. Depending on the style of shutters you have, there are a variety of different options you can choose and they can reduce heat loss by around 36%. Styles such as Full Height, Tier on Tier and Solid shutters all create that snug feeling when they're closed and often that can be enough. For shutters such as Café shutters where only a portion of the window is covered, you're likely to want additional solutions. You can opt for a range of blind styles, materials and fabrics and choose to lower them fully behind your shutters or simply to meet the top. And don't forget that shutters come in more than just white; our hardwood shutters feature a range of wood stains that are perfect for autumnal looks, such as Ginger Snap, Floral Cherry and the aptly named Autumn's Eve, while our Harlequin colour shutter collection includes green, ochre and grey in warm shades for a more modern look.

TS 2021 HARLEQUIN SHUTTER TRACKED BRAZILIAN ROSEWOOD LOUNGE LANDSCAPE

Blinds

The enormous range of blinds available can be overwhelming when it comes to choosing the best one, but again, if you focus on what matters most to you, it can help narrow the field. If you want a traditional look, with a wide choice of colour, texture and pattern then Roman blinds are the most obvious choice. If ease of use is at the top of your list, then take a look at blinds that can be powered by remote, such as our specialist Duette® blinds which also have their own individual properties, including thermal benefits, colours and textures.

TS Gilded TS 2021 GILDED SEASON BLINDS DUETTE BLINDS DEEP BALSAM 59292

Duette® blinds

With their honeycomb structure that helps stop heat escaping at windows and doors, Duette® blinds are a good choice for the cooler days (and nights) and may just be enough to stop you turning the central heating on or lighting the fire for a few weeks more. Dependant on the way you choose to have them fitted, they can reduce heat loss by up to 55% and you can also benefit from different styles, such as floating, where they can be operated from both top and bottom for precise placement in your window, which is ideal as the sun is much lower in the sky and it changes the angle the light comes in at. You can also choose a twin shade blind, which gives you the option of two different fabrics working together to provide an optimum blind. Pair a sheer with a dim out and you have a blind that can deal with a sunny day equally well as a rainy day, plus the range of colours offers a number of autumnal shades.

TS 2023 DUOTONE CARAMEL DUETTE LIVING ROOM 01

Roman blinds

Roman blinds really are a perennial favourite and they're a blind that can work for every season, and with an interlining can reduce heat loss by up to 21%. One of the reasons they're popular as a window dressing is the sheer choice of colour - whichever colours appeal to you, you're bound to be able to find a Roman blind in that colour. If you don't want to be so bold with colour but prefer a more subtle nod to a season, choose a blind with embroidered detailing - it's a little luxurious touch that adds a little warmth, and if the styling involves leaves or flowers so much the better.

TS 2023 CFWD CELOSIA EMERALD ROMAN BLINDS

Roller blinds

Roller blinds are often overlooked as a viable option for warm window dressing and it's a shame, as they actually offer many benefits for this time of year. From a colour perspective you're almost as spoiled for choice as with Roman blinds with a veritable rainbow of colours available. And that versatility doesn't stop with just colours. While Roller blinds do tend to be predominantly made from polyester, that doesn't mean they only come in one fabric look, far from it. At one end of the scale you have sheer options, more suitable for warmer times, right the way through to blackout fabrics, ideal for the freezing winter nights. Choose a fitting style that sits outside of the window frame and you can layer two Roller blinds over one another for a warmer look and feel too. They're also a good option for patio doors, as they can roll up into a cassette out of the way of the door, leaving you total access to go in and out, ideal for a spot of fall season gardening, in between the rain showers. Their effect on the room's energy efficiency is lower than other dressings, but at 13%, it's still significant.

TS 2023 WOODSIDE FERN ROLLER BLINDS BATHROOM PORTRAIT 02

Pleated blinds

Pleated blinds can bring you heat benefits, colour, texture and flexibility of fitting all wrapped up in one underestimated blind. With a variety of opacities you can choose what works best for your individual rooms, and also enjoy the fitting options that Duette blinds offer too. Colours tend to be more subtle on the whole, but there's still depth and rustic looks to be found. Specialist coatings can provide thermal benefits and there's even textures and patterns to help develop that snug feel 

TS BURLEY LOUNGE Hessian Crush

Wooden blinds

Balancing the fluctuating light levels of one Autumn day to another is one of the innate peculiarities of Autumn, with its eternally shifting light levels and angles and here's where the slatted vanes of Wooden blinds come to the fore, allowing you precision placement for optimum benefit. And while there may be a more limited colour palette than with other blinds in some ways the stained colours of natural wood are more intrinsically Autumn. You can really draw on that fact for further inspiration in your Autumn, or if you prefer, fall decorations and incorporate natural fabrics and accessories with the same tones - switch flowery potpourri for glossy conkers, summer pastel throws for forest green and really bring the season to life inside.

TS Wood Venetians Shale 1280Px

Summary

It's clear to see that there's a wealth of choice when it comes to window dressings for colder months. Whether you choose to focus on colour, texture, light control or one of several other factors is a matter of both personal choice and practical considerations but hopefully this article has given you a deeper insight into the options available and their numerous benefits.

1 - Salford Energy House Thermal Performance of Window Coverings Testing. University of Salford: Grant Henshaw, David Farmer, Bill George. March 2023
2 – Research into the Thermal Performance of Traditional Windows by Chris Wood, Bill Bardass and Paul Baker, English Heritage Research Report, October 2009
3 - Historic Environment Scotland Guide to energy retrofit of traditional buildings - full reference is Thermal performance of traditional windows (Technical Paper 1) by Technical Conservation Group, Historic Scotland. Glasgow Caledonian University 2008.
4 - Fraunhofer Energie Hunter Douglas Eng 110802 report 

Related Articles

Considerations when choosing between blinds and shutters

Making the kitchen the heart of your home

Wooden Shutters vs Vinyl Shutters

Dress your window for their shape

8 Do's and Don'ts for Maintaining your Conservatory

What Are the Different Types of Blinds?