{window treatment wednesday: should you keep your shades open in winter?}


To Open or Not to Open? That is the Question.

Window frost

When Arctic air descends upon Minnesota—or, even worse, a polar vortex—it’s all you can do to stay warm when you venture outdoors. It can be hard on your furnace to keep your house comfortable indoors, too. You want to maximize the extra energy efficiency your window treatments may provide, but then you have another concern. When you keep shades closed moisture may become trapped, increasing condensation on your windows. What’s the best way to keep your window treatments insulating your home without putting your interior finish at risk for moisture-related damage?

Shannon Scarrella is an expert on window coverings. She refers to a convenient chart created by Hunter Douglas that shows the ideal times for window treatments to be closed or open depending on the direction that your windows face and the time of year.

Screen shot 2014-01-13 at 12.38.25 PM

Looking at the chart, your north-facing windows should be closed all day between the months of November and December. South-facing windows would be open from morning until mid-afternoon, east-facing windows open in the morning only and west-facing just in the afternoon. That way you could balance keeping the cold out, sun in and hopefully give condensation a chance to evaporate.

Scarrella has more insight on how she balances this in her home. “I personally leave my window treatments open slightly at the bottom to let some of the air escape between the window and the window treatment,” she says. “With the extreme cold that we’ve been having, when I leave my honeycomb shades fully closed, the warm air from inside doesn’t reach my window. My windows have had a lot of condensation freeze—and then [when] I open my window treatments, the warm air inside begins to melt it off the window, leaving water on my trim.  Having done this cycle a few times, I found that raising my window treatments just slightly helps to keep my windows from all the condensation.”

Scarrella says that horizontal products tend to be better at allowing windows to breathe and condensation to evaporate. But you do sacrifice on energy efficiency since they’re not nearly as efficient as options such as the Duette Architella window treatments.

Throughout the year, it’s savvy to keep in mind the balance between keeping your home insulated while monitoring condensation on your windows. That way you can maximize insulating benefits without your interior woodwork being at risk for water damage.

Since Frank and Elizabeth Hirshfield opened their first store in 1894, it has been our mission to do the best job possible meeting customer needs and solving customer problems. Hirshfield’s. People and products you can trust.

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