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Old 03-12-2013, 10:52 PM   #1
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Best insulation?


My energy-efficiency audit says that the most problematic area is windows. Unfortunately, I'm stucked with aluminium-framed windows, due to condominium restrictions. Thet are double-paned, but with metal as a "thermal break", so consider them as a single-pane. Changing them to a better ones, but also aluminium-framed, wouldn't obviously give a good return on investment. Auditor suggested to install curtains or shades. Which choice would be more efficient? I'm confused with answers I found in the web since it is hard to say if the question was answered by sales person or not. Among the shades, the honeycomb ones with double cells were highly recommended, but are they really better than good curtains. Or, perhaps, some other choices (possibly complimentary) will be better? If you have recommendations regarding brand/models that would be great! I have a couple of patio doors and ten windows. I'd like to keep them operable, so window films wouldn't work, I think (by the way, is that true or I miss something here?). Ideally, I'd like to have something which works both in winters and summers, but separate things are also fine.


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Old 03-13-2013, 08:09 AM   #2
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Best insulation?


You are definitely a bit hamstrung on the window efficiency side of things.

Cellular shades or heavy blinds will both work wonders and the cellular shades are, in theory, better than the heavy blinds but that is assuming that they are a very tight fit with the wall. Not usually the case and the convection and air movement certainly undo some of the efficiency.

With curtains, you can usually cover the entire opening quite easily and have it look seamless.

Be aware though. If you cover those openings, it is very likely that the window will show some condensation and their temperature drops below dew point when they are covered with curtains or shades.

You are on the right track though and there wouldn't but much utility in replacing your windows in this case as long as they still work well.

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Old 03-13-2013, 08:36 AM   #3
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You are definitely a bit hamstrung on the window efficiency side of things.
Yes, that's true:-( And I have to deal with enourmous electric bill I've recently received (I've just purchased this townhouse). Therefore, any costsaving (with resobable return on investment) is a great deal for me.

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Cellular shades or heavy blinds will both work wonders and the cellular shades are, in theory, better than the heavy blinds but that is assuming that they are a very tight fit with the wall. Not usually the case and the convection and air movement certainly undo some of the efficiency.
Sorry for layman question, is there any way to cellular shades fit tight to the wall? Say, sort of side trim?

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Be aware though. If you cover those openings, it is very likely that the window will show some condensation and their temperature drops below dew point when they are covered with curtains or shades.
Is it an issue for aluminium frames? They are much more durable compared to wodden ones and much more difficult to damage, right?
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Old 03-13-2013, 09:19 AM   #4
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Best insulation?


You can get cellular shades to whatever size you need them.

The aluminum frames will be a bit more conductive and therefore colder when cold outside.

Aluminum is very durable when taken proper care of.
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:33 AM   #5
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Thanks!
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You can get cellular shades to whatever size you need them.
Sorry for misunderstanding. My windows are installed deeply into buliding window frame, leaving a window sill about 8" long also inside the window frame. Therefore, I think, the shades can be also installed into that frame. That allows to have 1/8" gap, I'd say, between shade sides and walls (essentially, building window frames). That's why I was asking if there is sort of trim to minimize that gap. Or, you think, there is nothing to worry about in this case? Or you think curtains would still be better?

Regarding material, do you think all cellular shades are the same or I have to ask for some specific material? And similar question for curtains: dreadnought, crash or something else? Or all of them are the same in terms of efficiency and it is only a matter of personal taste?

Any other (perhaps, complimentary) ways to insulate windows?
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Old 03-13-2013, 01:18 PM   #6
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Best insulation?


The deeper jamb depth is a good thing. Gives you a bit more of a thermal barrier. Perhaps a set of thermal/cellular shades in conjunction with some drapes would be great.
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Old 03-13-2013, 03:16 PM   #7
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Best insulation?


+1 to WoW's recommendations... My only addition would be to say that it may be worthwhile to challenge that ruling on using only aluminum windows. In my experience, condo boards are primarily concerned about preserving consistency on the exterior. This can be done with vinyl, wood, or fiberglass windows of the same color, as ultimately you can't tell much difference from the exterior at that point. I would go as far as bringing a sample to a condo board meeting. You could also contact a contractor in your area, and have him provide pictures of his installations in condos where an exterior match was required. I'm sure that some will, but in my own experience I have yet to run into a condo board that did not give in when presented with good alternatives. After all, everybody wants a more efficient choice
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Old 03-13-2013, 04:18 PM   #8
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+1

Good rule of thumb is that if you can outwardly appear to be the authority on a given issue and know your facts, most HOAs can be steered to your side of the issue.
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Old 03-13-2013, 05:07 PM   #9
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Thanks a lot, HomeSealed and Windows on Wash! Definitely will try to follow your suggestions!

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