Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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How to Keep Harmful Sunlight from Coming Through Windows

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I have several windows that receive a lot of sun in the afternoon. What’s the best way to keep the heat and sunlight out while still being able to see outside? -Joan

Hi Joan,

UV rays and solar heat from windows can damage furniture and fabrics and increase your air conditioning bills. To prevent this from happening you could:

  • Window Film: Install special window film on the inside of your glass that blocks UV and solar heat. Window film comes in various tints, just be sure the one you get blocks both UV rays and heat. DIY-friendly window film is available at home centers, or you can have it professionally installed. If your windows have double pane glass, check with the window manufacturer first to be sure installing window film won’t damage the glass or void your warranty.
  • Solar Screen: Another option is to replace your standard window screening with solar screening, which can reduce the amount of UV rays and heat coming through your windows from 70% to 90%.
  • Roman Shades: Roll down shades of solid fabric or see through sun screen type material can be installed on the outside of your home above sunny windows. Simply roll them up when not needed and roll down when sun is a problem.
  • Awnings: Installing fabric or metal awnings above sunny windows may not be the most attractive option, but it will block the sun while allowing you to see out.
  • Replacement Windows: A more expensive option would be to replace sunny windows, or the glass in them, with double pane insulated glass with a Low-E coating. Similiar to window film, this almost invisible thin metallic coating allows you to see out while reducing UV rays by 99% and heat loss by 30% to 50%. Be sure to look for windows with a U-factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) of 0.30 or lower. If you live in a warm climate, the Low-E coating should be applied to the outer pane of glass to keep heat out while in cold climate it should go on the inside to hold heat in.
  • Shade Tree: Planting a deciduous shade tree on the south or west side of your house is a simple, natural way to block the sun in summer while letting it through in winter, though it can take years to grow before you get the full effect. Popular shade trees include oak, maple, and poplar.

Each of these solutions have pros and cons as to how well they work, their appearance, and cost.

Good luck with your project,

Danny



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