DOE Researchers Show How Window Shades Provide Up to 24% Heating Energy Savings

Cellular Window Shades

Window shades with cellular or honeycomb structures were found to provide higher energy savings during winter than generic venetian blinds, potentially saving millions of tons of carbon emissions, according to a study by scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The study compared the performance of several cellular shades and venetian blinds over two heating seasons, with the room featuring cellular shades achieving up to 24% heating energy savings. Additionally, energy simulations suggested that using cellular shades in residential buildings could reduce carbon emissions by up to 3 million tons assuming a 20% adoption rate.

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) demonstrated that window shades with a cellular or honeycomb structure provide higher energy savings during winter compared to generic venetian blinds and can save millions of tons of carbon emissions. 

Windows contribute to energy demand in residential homes because they let heat escape; coverings can improve insulation. In a study, researchers compared the performance of three single-cell and two cell-in-cell-construction cellular shades with that of generic horizontal venetian blinds. The shades were installed from December to March for two heating seasons over windows in adjacent, identical second-floor rooms in a home in the Southeast United States.

Energy Savings Cellular Shades

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers tested the performance of cellular shades in a two-story residential home in the Southeast and proved coverings with a honeycomb structure provide significant energy savings during winter and can potentially reduce carbon emissions. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

“The room with the cellular shades achieved up to 24% heating energy savings,” ORNL’s Mahabir Bhandari said. Additional energy simulations predicted how the shades would perform in different climate zones. “Nationally, carbon emissions could potentially be reduced up to 3 million tons assuming a 20% penetration rate of cellular shades in residential buildings.”

Reference: “National energy savings potential of cellular shades: A measurement and simulation study” by Niraj Kunwar, Mahabir Bhandari and Dragan C. Curcija, 14 September 2022, Building and Environment.
DOI: 10.1016/j.buildenv.2022.109593

The percentage of US household utility bills that goes toward heating varies depending on factors such as the region, the size of the home, and the heating system used. However, according to the US Department of Energy, the average American household spends around 42% of their energy bills on heating and cooling expenses combined. This percentage can be higher in colder regions and for larger homes that require more energy to heat.

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