Window Blinds Answers a Desert Dweller's Prayer

I grew up in upstate New York, where the winters were long and the snow deep. Then after college, I took an opportunity to go live in Iceland for a few years, an even more extreme environment. So, for most of my life I have dealt with cold. I thought it would be a welcome change when I was offered a job in Phoenix. In my mind, I was thinking shorts, tanning, afternoons by the pool and the end to winter.

I moved in the winter and got a false impression of what living in the desert was going to be like. It was cool in the morning and comfortably warm in the afternoon. In fact, it was downright pleasant. Then the summer came rolling along and the thermometer just kept climbing ever higher. By July it was well above 100 degrees by late morning. It was so hot that I was often sent into a bit of a panic when I would go into my car and it was like 140 degrees in there. It would take several minutes for the air conditioning to start making a dent in the heat. My home has central air like most homes in the valley but it was costing an arm and a leg to keep my home cool. I am not talking a little expensive; I am talking like $600 per month. I was having trouble sleeping at night because it was so hot and when I left the air conditioning on all night I felt guilty about the expense of running the compressor so much, knowing that the power meter was just rolling and rolling. I needed to do something and fast.

My house is already fairly well insulated so what more could I do to improve its energy efficiency My answer came when I looked at the cheap mini blinds that were covering my many windows and the fact that many windows had no blinds at all. I needed to improve my insulation and decrease the heat gain that happens when the sun shines through my west-facing windows.

I did some research on the internet and looked into solar screens and insulating window blinds. I learned that you can purchase solar blinds for your windows with views and honeycomb shades, also known as cellular shades, for maximum insulation. I have two large bay windows that overlook a nice piece of desert and I didn't want to block out. So, I decided to purchase some opaque solar shades for those windows and triple cell cellular shades for all the rest. The triple cell cellular shades, so I was told, can improve the insulation properties of a window by like thirty percent. They weren't cheap though. But what the heck, I was already spending $600 per month to cool my home. These babies would pay off in no time.

For my bedroom, I purchased a blackout liner for the cellular shades. For the rest of the windows, I just bought the regular variety. I installed all of the blinds and shades myself and I noticed a difference immediately. I noticed that my air conditioner compressor was not coming on as often, I noticed that the temperature in my home stayed relatively constant, kind of like a cave. I noticed that I could leave the temperature gauge at 72 degrees instead of 65 and it felt just fine. Yes, life was looking up and my desert experience was certainly getting easier to deal with. It turns out that new window blinds were the answer to this desert dweller's prayer. Now if only I could stay indoors all summer.

Don't hesitate to get yourself some comfort if you share my experience. A good set of insulating window blinds and some solar screens can make life in the valley downright tolerable. - David Brooks