The Science Behind Energy Efficiency and Honeycomb Shades
Even the most energy efficient window on the market cannot prevent heat flow. It’s science.
The Science Behind Heat Flow
Heat always travels from warm areas to cool areas along the path of least resistance – in this case that means your windows. Using R-Value as a guide, we can determine where heat is most likely escaping from your home. R-Value is a measure of a material’s resistance to heat flow, or said another way, R-Value rates the thermal resistance of building materials. The average exterior wall has an R-Value of 13.1, according to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, while the average window has an R-Value of just 1.16.
“Windows lose more heat per square foot of area in winter and gain more heat in summer than any other surface in the home,” according to the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Because of this, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that windows account for 25-40% of our annual heating and cooling costs. In 1990 alone, the “energy used to offset unwanted heat losses and gains through windows in residential and commercial buildings cost the United States $20 billion (one-fourth of all the energy used for space heating and cooling),” says the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. By making the windows more efficient and slowing heat loss, a significant amount of the energy and money can be saved.
“Some carefully selected window treatments can reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer,” advises DOE. “Several manufacturers have designed two- or three-cell pleated or cellular shades with dead air spaces, which increase their insulating value.”
The Science Behind Energy Efficient Honeycomb Shades
“Cellular shades also act as insulation, protecting your home from cold and heat with their energy-saving honeycomb design,” says interior designer Lisa Scheff. These window treatments can actually increase a window’s R-Value anywhere from 3.45 and 5.00, slowing the transfer of heat by as much as 55-65% But how do they work?
The secret is the honeycomb design. Each honeycomb, or cell, produces insulating pockets of inert air which can help reduce heat flow through a window. This is because inert air is a poor conductor of heat. So, the more cells there are, and the bigger the cells, the more energy efficient the shade.
“Interior shades can make rooms more comfortable,” says Peter Yost, Director of Residential Services at Green Building Advisor. “They have been shown to boost thermal comfort (raise the mean radiant temperature) by as much as 5°F.”
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