Tag Archives: Hunter Douglas

Blinds vs. Shades – Which are Better?

These are basically two types of window treatments, although they come in a wide variety of styles and with lots of options.

Blinds are “hard” window treatments with slats or vanes made of wood, composite, vinyl or aluminum.  They can be horizontal or vertical.  Shutters are a gorgeous alternative but function in much the same way.

Shades are “soft” window coverings made of fabric, vinyl, woven woods or grasses.

When deciding between the two and selecting any type of window treatment you need to consider these factors:

vigtailored_powerrisetwo_bathroom-resized-600Privacy & Light Control

How will you use the room?  Bedrooms and bathrooms have an obvious need for privacy and light control, as well as rooms where you’ll watch TV or work at a computer.  Blinds provide the most flexibility with privacy & light control because they can be raised or lowered, as well as tilted open or closed depending upon the amount of privacy/light you desire.   With shades, privacy & light control is mainly achieved by raising or lowering the shade, but also depends on the type and color of material you choose.  Shade materials range from sheer to light filtering to completely light blocking. (Note that darker fabrics block more light, as the Hunter Douglas Vignette roman shade pictured above  demonstrates.)

graber-cellular-1-resized-600Climate & Natural Light

The right window treatment can actually increase your home’s energy efficiency.  Western and Southern facing rooms receive strong warm light, plus homes in Southern climates or anywhere in the summer require stronger light & heat control.  Energy-efficient window treatments like cellular/honeycomb shades (shown here from Graber) trap hot or cold air at the window.  In a Northern climate, during the winter months or in a North-facing room, you might want to allow more light in to take advantage of the sun’s radiant heat.   Moreover, UV light can damage, fade or darken beautiful hardwood floors and fine furnishings.  In these rooms, you may want to consider window shades specifically made to block UV light.

heritance-truview-childsroom_1-resized-600Architectural Details & Room Decor

Great architectural details, like the bay window (pictured right), take center stage with coordinating wood shutters or blinds.   The clean, tailored lines of shutters and blinds also complement contemporary, classic and masculine interiors.  If you’re going for a more feminine, romantic look you would opt for a soft window shade or drapery.

Also, consider the mix of materials in your room’s decor.  Ideally, you want to achieve a balance between hard materials like wood, tile & stone, metal and soft materials like fabric. For example, if your room has porcelain tile on the floor, wood and metal tables with leather furniture,  the softness & texture of a roman shade will help balance the decor.

silhouette-views-resized-600Your Lovely Views

If you’re blessed with gorgeous views outside, you’ll want shades that completely retract into the headrail or blinds/shutters with larger slats (2′” or more) that preserve more of the view outside when open.  One gorgeous option is the Hunter Douglas’ Silhouette window shading (pictured left) which does both!

Cleaning & Maintenance

In general, blinds and shutters are easier to clean than shades.  You simply dust or wipe down the slats.  Some blinds even feature removable slats!  Shades are a little trickier and are usually just spot-cleaned as needed.  Some fabric shades can be removed and cleaned in the bathtub with mild soap and water.  Our sales consultants will provide you with each manufacturer’s recommended cleaning and care tips.

Key Takeaway:  There are a lot of factors to consider when shopping for window treatments.  Our design consultants are window treatment experts and will help you navigate all the options to find the perfect blinds or shades for your home and family.

Window Treatments That Save You Money

Choosing energy-efficient window treatments can save you money on monthly utility bills and at tax time.

Windows are “energy holes.”  Although today’s sealed, double-paned windows do a good job of preventing air flow, they still offer little resistance to the flow of heat. In fact, up to 50% of your home’s heating and cooling energy pours through them.  That means that one half of your home’s heating and cooling expenses goes through them as well.   Installing the right window treatments in your home can reduce heating, cooling, and lighting energy needs in 3 ways.

Three Ways to Save Energy

1.  Reduce heat flow (heat loss and heat gain) through the windows
R-Value:  R-values measure resistance to heat flow.  The walls of a newer home typically have an R-value of 19, while standard double-pane windows have an R-value of about 2.   Energy-saving window treatments can add up to 4 points to a window’s R-value, cutting heat loss by up to 2/3.  Imagine the impact of this insulation on your utility bills!

Insulating Window Treatments that boost R-values:
money1Developed in the 1970’s in response to the energy crisis, honeycomb or cellular shades are one of the most energy-efficient window treatments you can buy.  We like the Hunter Douglas Duette Architella Honeycomb Shades (pictured right), which increase R-values by up to 4 points!  Other good options include shutters, roman shades and horizontal sheer blinds.  Whichever window treatments you choose, make sure they can be inside-mounted, flush against your window casement or you won’t see much benefit.

2.   Control solar heat by allowing it in winter and reducing it in summer

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) – Measured on a scale of 0 to 1, this tells us what fraction of solar energy hitting the window actually enters the home.  Lower numbers are better.  Standard double-pane windows have a SHGC of 0.76 – meaning 76% gets in the home!  If you live in a sunny climate or have a south or west-facing room that gets a lot of sun in the summer, choose window treatments that are light in color to reflect as much solar energy as possible.

In the winter, you can take advantage of this free solar energy to reduce your heating bills.  Simply raise or open window coverings whenever direct sunlight is shining on the window – in the morning for east windows, in the afternoon for west windows and most of the day for south windows.

money2Window Treatments that Reduce Your SHGC:

Almost all window treatments reduce the SHGC when closed, but those with the best SHGC ratings include HD Duette Architella honeycomb shades, vertical blinds, shutters, roman shades and opaque draperies.   We like Hunter Douglas Luminette Privacy Sheers (pictured right), which reduce SHGC to 0.20, blocking 80% of solar energy.

3.   Enhance daylighting (the use of natural light) by diffusing and dispersing sunlight deep into a room.   

money3The biggest problem homeowners face is direct sunlight.  It creates too much contrast in a room.  Dark areas seem darker and sunlit areas are harsh and glaring.  The goals of “daylighting” are to even the intensity of incoming light and bring it deeper into the room.  Certain window treatments can diffuse harsh sunlight, evening it out and making it softer.  HD Silhouette Window Shadings (pictured right) do a beautiful job of diffusing light and also block 99% of UV rays, protecting your furnishings.  Honeycomb shades and vertical sheers are other good daylighting options.

2011 Federal Energy Tax Credit

In addition to saving money on energy bills, you may be eligible to receive a federal tax credit of up to $500 when you purchase the following energy-efficient window treatments (through December 31, 2011):

  • Honeycomb shades
  • Plantation shutters
  • Draperies, especially those identified as “insulated drapes”
  • Window films with insulating properties

Please note that manufacturers must certify that their window treatments meet the federal government’s criteria for energy efficiency, such as Hunter Douglas’ Duette Architella honeycomb shades and Comfortex’s Comfortrack system.  So make sure you receive documented proof of this certification.  You won’t have to submit the certification statement with your tax return, but you’ll need it and a copy of the sales receipt for your records.

Key Takeaway:  Energy-efficient window treatments are a smart investment.  They not only add style and comfort to your home, they can save you money on your monthly utility bills and also at tax time.