We were introduced to exterior solar blinds this spring as we really focused on ways to reduce our energy consumption following the energy audit done on our own home. If you haven’t had an energy audit on your own home, I highly recommend them. Many local utilities do them now for free; that’s right, free.
What is an exterior solar blind? Honestly, it is not as exotic as it sounds. It is simply a product made out of material similar to regular window screens, except this product covers the entire window pane. It fits on top of the window frame on the outside.
Why on the outside? Well, if you wait until the sun’s UV ray’s pass through the glass of an east, south or west facing window, these UV rays will already be inside the house. If you try to block them at this point with an interior blind you might just to damage to the window glass if the heat build up is to intense between the window and the interior blind.
And, the heat build-up between the window glass and the interior blind will escape into the room causing excessive heat build up. Go ahead and carefully try to actually touch the glass during a sunny day on the inside of the room for a south facing window and you will see how hot it really is.
By placing the solar blind or shade on the outside of the window you prevent most of the sun’s UV rays before they ever reach the glass.
Some companies sell exterior solar blinds made to order and will install them for you. The type we purchased can be installed by an average home owner like us and will fit on any size and shape of window in your home or cottage. If you have wooden window frames you can use the type of anchoring hardware that would be screwed into the frame. For us, we have no maintenance metal window frames, so we chose the type of anchoring hardware using a 3M adhesive.
First, let me begin by stating that the same day we completed the installation on our test window, (the one facing south west that is mostly hidden by the TV in our family room), I received the green light from Cath (my wife) to proceed to proceed to apply the product on the other south facing windows. That should speak volumes.
Now, regarding the resultant interior temperature impact. I am not a scientist so this is not what scientists and lawyers would call a ‘controlled experiment’; this is simply using what tools I have.
First, the morning after I installed the material on the second window, this one facing south east, my wife mentioned that she could feel the difference already in the family room (before we installed the exterior solar blind on the the large 8 foot wide by 6 foot high due south facing window). The chair she usually occupies is right up against that large south east facing window which gets direct sun light in the morning.
Second, while totally un-scientific, I ran my own test as described below. In the middle of winter on a bright sunny day, I placed an electronic temperature gauge on the inside window ledge of the large due south facing window with the interior blind rolled down for 10 minutes. The reading on that temperature gauge was 99 degrees Fahrenheit. This was caused by the direct sun light and UV rays passing through our ENERGY STAR rated windows to heat up the device itself. Yes, it was very hot to the touch.
After I installed the exterior solar blind on the outside of the same window, I used the same digital temperature gauge placed for this time 15 minutes on the inside of the same window ledge on an equally sunny day with the same interior blind rolled down.
The difference really surprised me. After spending 5 more minutes on the window ledge after the exterior solar blind was installed vs when it had not, this temperature gauge was reading only 84 degrees! A full 15 degree reduction in the temperature reading caused by nothing more than having installed the exterior solar blind.
What I did not expect was what my wife did with the interior window coverings afterwards. She stopped using them. Only once right after we installed the exterior solar blind did she ‘close the curtains’ (actually we have pull down roller blind type of window coverings, but ‘close the curtains’ sounds nicer, don’t you think? ) And that was out of habit.
Lastly, we still have a clear view of the outside with the exterior solar blind / shades product on our windows. Very nice.
Easy to install. Significant reduction of the inside temperature. Savings on air conditioning costs. See outside. Reduce impact of the sun’s UV rays from damaging the hardwood floor and furniture within the inside. Used on any east, south or west window of any shape or size.
If you are not familiar with this produce there are lots of web sites for lots of manufacturers offering such products. If you end up paying more than $3 per square foot you are likely paying too much. Be careful; in the summer time some manufacturers might jack up the prices knowing you have the need right now.