It’s the middle of August and I live in Texas. It’s damn hot! There is one room in my house that gets direct sunlight. It happens to be my office that is in the back of the house. I have been brainstorming for a few weeks now on how I can get this particular room to be cool like the rest of the house. As a future project, I plan to add some awnings for shade but I’m hot right now. I live in the country, in the middle of nowhere. We have lots of land that surrounds us. No houses anywhere to be seen and lots of trees. We made the move from the city to the country about 6 months ago and we won’t ever go back. I’ve left the world of manicured lawns with sprinkler systems for trees and wildlife. As I drive down our country road to get to my house I see all sorts of different houses from manufactured homes to beautiful ranch homes that some may call mansions.
One thing that sticks out the most is the different window treatments. Lots of houses have beautiful shutters that are decorative or useful while on the extreme opposite others have tin foil. Yes, the shiny tin foil that is used for cooking. I don’t remember seeing this in the city. I’m used to wood blinds or faux wood blinds with black out curtains. Why in the world would people use tin foil? There’s no light. There’s no option to open the blinds or curtains. That’s some serious dedication to keeping the light out, wouldn’t you say? Is it to keep the light out? Is it to reflect the heat from the home? I’m not sure. Either way it’s damn ugly. But… I’m desperate. It’s hot in my office and I can’t stand it. I decided to do a test. By the way, for those of you that know my husband. Yes, there are times just like this that he thinks I’m totally nuts. lol
I decided to test to see which window treatments I should spend money on. I started a Facebook conversation with my friends asking for advice. Turns out there are lots of people that have very strong opinions on which window treatments work wonders on keeping your home cooler in the Texas heat.
Here’s the suggestions I received for window treatments:
- Bubble wrap
- Black Out curtains
- Tin foil
- Car Visors (which are basically tin foil covered bubble wrap)
- Vines that grow over your window
- Reflective window film
- Window blinds (faux wood)
- Halcyon Shade (metal blind that rolls up)
- Levolor Roller Shade
Here are other suggestions I received to help keep the house cool:
- Spray the attic with insulation
- Solar Panels on your roof
- Shade trees
- Change light bulbs to the LED bulbs because they put out less heat
- Solar screens
- Radiant barrier inside the attic (read my experience below on this awesome idea)
Some of these ideas I have experience with and some I don’t. I decided to do a small test on my windows with some of the suggestions given to me. I’m talking to frugal and quick options to gain me some instant relief from the heat right now without a lot of time or money investment. I decided to test the cardboard, Styrofoam, tin foil, bubble wrap, black out curtains and a car visor. These are all quick options I had on hand. The tin foil option still baffles me. It’s ugly as all sin but I have to know how it stands up to my black out curtains. (this is the part where my husband thinks I’m nuts!)
The window test:
I have an infrared thermometer temperature gun that I used to test the temperature of each window after having each window treatment on it for a day. I tested this during the hottest month in Texas (August) and at the hottest part of the day. All the windows face the same way. All the windows get direct sunlight. The results amazed me.
I’ve tested each window treatment in my home with the window treatments I had. Here are the results
- Cardboard Styrofoam – 76 degrees
- Bubble wrap – 87 degrees (when this was suggested I wonder if they meant for this to keep warmth in during the winter?)
- Black Out curtains – 76 degrees
- Tin foil – 73 degrees
- Car Visors (which are basically tin foil covered bubble wrap) – 74 degrees
- Window blinds (faux wood) – 77 degrees
- Vertical plastic blinds – 78 degrees
- Halcyon Shade (metal blind that rolls up) – 79 degrees
- Levolor Roller Shade – 78 degrees
Tin foil is the clear winner here but there’s no way on God’s green earth that I am hanging tin foil on my windows. I’m the type that needs an option to see the beauty outside. I like a bit of sunlight at times too. I just want to be able to shut it out on a super hot day. Do you know what I mean? There must be some science between the shiny reflective coding to bounce the sun rays off of the windows and keep the heat away though. Now, I kind of understand why I see people use it. It really does work. My next thought is, I think the curtain company should pair up with Reynolds tin foil and create a layer in between our black out curtains to make one amazing product!
Another thought is, based on the tin foil results, I am going to spend a little bit of money and get some reflective window film to help my windows that face that harsh sunlight during these hot Texas days. I’ve done a decorative film before for privacy. I know it’s super easy to put on. Basically, all you do is cut the film to the size of you and spray a liquid to attach the film. Yes, it’s that easy. (Stay tuned and I will write another article on how that process goes for me)
I can tell you that one of the best investments I’ve ever done on a new house was install radiant barrier in the attic. The tin foil result had me think about my attic. Radiant barrier, also known as reflective insulation, is a type of thermal (heat) insulation that inhibits heat transfer by thermal radiation. In other words, it bounces the sun off the house and keeps the house much cooler. In my own words, it looks like a huge piece of Styrofoam covered in a very heavy and thick tin foil. If you already have a house that doesn’t have radiant barrier, you can easily install some over the insulation you already have with RadiantGUARD I found here on Amazon. I had a 3000 square foot home and my electric bill never even reached $200. Before this, we lived in a 1700 square foot home that did not have this type of insulation in the attic and my bill was between $400 and $500 during the summer months. It made a huge difference. There is one con that I can think of though. Cell phone signals. You will need a cell phone signal booster because it will block that signal. Small price to pay for a huge energy savings each year.
Are you as surprised by the window tests as I am?
Here are a few photos I took during my testing:
Feel free to Pin It here for later: