Although autumn has been unseasonably warm, the Met Office suggest the usual cold winter weather could soon be with us. And with colder temperatures comes a heavier reliance on central heating systems to stay warm.
However, a more sustainable approach is to focus on heat retention, in an attempt to keep energy costs down and cut our carbon footprint. In this blog we identify the best blinds and curtains for heat retention in commercial buildings.
One way is to ensure all windows are protected by blinds or curtains which are kept shut when the sun is not shining. According to the University of Salford, keeping curtains closed can save 17% on fuel bills.
But how do you choose between the best product for your space?
Firstly, it depends on the business. In an office, blinds provide more multi-functional benefits than curtains. They can be used all year round to regulate temperature, solar gain, natural light and glare. However, in hotels, restaurants and bars, curtains may look more attractive and create a sense of warmth.
Blinds with thermal protection
Metallised fabrics like SilverScreen® have a low U-value and will be the most effective with regards to heat retention.
Fully automated blind systems can be set to raise and drop depending on the light and time of day, which eliminates the need to manually do this and maximises the amount of heat retained, especially when paired with SilverScreen®. We cover this in greater depth in our RIBA-accredited CPD, Improving Sustainability through Performance Solar Shading.
Furthermore, it’s vital that blinds are fitted as close to the window as possible. Heat loss is reduced by minimising the gap between blind and glazing. Cold air seeps through the narrowest gap, so keep the blinds as tight to the frame as possible down the sides and across the bottom. ShadeTech® DBL-G and DBL-E both do this job well.
However, if the blinds are not fully automated and require an element of human interaction to raise and lower, then ensuring your blinds are at the right position throughout the day is crucial.
Keeping them raised during the day, if they’re not needed for glare control, allows for the positive effects of solar heat gain to warm the building. Then, once the darkness draws in, the blinds should be fully lowered to help retain the heat.
Pull the curtains to keep heat in
Thermal curtains, like their equivalent blinds, are made from multiple layers of material. Typically, the decorative face material is lined with two or three further materials behind it. Look for internal layers which are especially heat retentive – such as felt or flannel.
No curtain cuts heat loss when it’s open, so it is important users close them as soon as it starts to get dark – particularly in hotels.
Natural materials, such as the pure new wool used in Kvadrat’s divina range of fabrics, are not just good for heat retention, they also minimise environmental damage.
Whatever option is chosen, pulling blinds and curtains plays its part in the overall energy reduction strategy.
Up to 30% of the heat is lost through windows. So, close those curtains and drop those blinds as soon as the temperature dips.