Natural Climate Control: Shade and Curtains for Energy Efficiency

An image of a curtain shielding a home from sunlight.
Energy Efficiency
When it comes to choosing a curtain, color can make a big difference. Darker colors absorb more radiant heat from the sun’s rays, while lighter colors reflect light.

From solar panels to smart appliances, there’s a myriad of sophisticated technology designed to conserve energy. But what about the simple things?

Let’s get back to the basics. Blackout curtains or window coverings are inexpensive and attractive, keeping you toasty in the winter by trapping warm air, and cool in the summer by deflecting sweltering rays.

Blackout Curtains: The Backstory

Despite being a product of WWII, blackout curtains still find use in homes today. Originally made as part of the British war strategy, they were used to hide civilian homes from German bombing campaigns, which depended on light for identifying targets.

Today, blackout curtains—which use opaque foam to block light from entering a room—have made a comeback, and for good reason. They reduce light and noise pollution, and conserve energy. As a bonus, they block unwanted light when you want to catch some much-needed sleep.

Selecting A Curtain

... When it comes to choosing a curtain, color can make a big difference. Darker colors absorb more radiant heat from the sun’s rays, while lighter colors reflect light.

To make curtains fit snug to the surrounding wall, a number of manufacturers have included Velcro® or magnetic strips. For energy savings, these types of curtains are preferable, since a tight fit gives you better energy efficiency in the long run.

Getting The Most From Your Curtains

... Before placing a curtain, be sure to inspect the caulking and weather stripping around your window—cracks or holes can seriously undermine your energy-conservation efforts.

Installation troubles aside, knowing when to open or close your curtains during the day means staying comfortable year-round:

  • In the Summer: Keep your curtains closed during periods of direct, afternoon sun. Keep an eye on the West and Southwest areas of your house, which are prone to overheating.
  • In the Winter: During the winter months, direct sun is a marvelous thing—it can lighten the heating bill and warm everyone’s spirits. Provided your window frame is adequately weather-proofed, open the curtains and let the sun stream in.

Curtain Alternatives

...If you’re not a fan of curtains—or they won’t work in a particular space—a reversible window shade might just do the trick.

While not quite as versatile as blackout curtains, window shades may be useful for temperature control. Reversible shades include a white side to reflect sun in the summer, and a black side to absorb heat in the winter.  

Taking small, inexpensive steps to control the temperature in your home can have a huge impact on your comfort. When combined with a modern cooling and heating system, such as one of our ductless options, the results will be even more enjoyable.


The Nest: Saving Energy with Curtains How to Use Your Shades, Blinds and Curtains to Beat the Heat

How Stuff Works: Consider Blackout Curtains to Save Energy and Control Light and Noise

This article and its content are sponsored by Mitsubishi Electric US Inc., Cooling & Heating Division.

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