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The local power company did an energy survey on my place last week. One of the items suggested was to replace the window treatments with cellular shades/blinds.

We now have mini-blinds in all the windows. My question is how cost effective are cellular shades vs mini blinds? IAW what is the return on investment?

BTW - the windows are double glazed crank out casement windows that are really tight, as we rarely open them, and the house is not quite 20 years old.
 

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I was told that there's quite a difference but I imagine that depends upon the type of window they're being used in. I ended up going with wooden plantation blinds, so obviously I didn't end up with the best R factor. In terms of cost effectiveness, any replacement of the existing system would require a really significant increase in energy efficiency (in my mind, at least). I can't imagine it would be worth the investment unless you're looking for a change anyway. The homebuilders forum might actually be better than this one. There are a lot of contractors over there, as I recently learned, having posted a question there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's kind of what I'm thinking also (regarding cost effectiveness), Al.

(I also posted the question on Homebuilders last night, but haven't got a hit yet, so thought I'd do it here as well.)
 

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I asked a question on homebuilders and basically got a book as a reply. It was incredibly helpful. Someone smarter than me will definitely have the answer for you, either here or there. Good luck!
 

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I don't have numbers but they seem to be very effective in our house. In fact they can be too effective. If we close the cellular blinds completely in our bedroom in the winter the inside of the window will be covered in ice by morning!
 

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I started using both mini-blinds plus curtains upstairs and have noticed a difference. It depends on how much of a "cave" you are willing to live in. I use blackout curtains for two reasons:

1. Astronomy-to block light coming from the house toward the observatory at night. My astro-CCDs are extremely sensitive to stray light.

2. Sleep - It is common knowledge that low levels of melatonin related to night time light pollution increases incidents of cancer.
 

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The difference between no blinds and cellular shades would be quite noticeable. But the savings of cellular shades over mini blinds on a double pane window would be pretty small, I'd be willing to bet. When you look at the payback time (how long it would take for the energy savings to add up to the cost of replacing your blinds), I suspect it might be longer than the lifespan of the shades themselves.

A lot also depends on your climate, and whether summer heat or winter cold is your biggest problem. In winter, the concern is R-value. A good cellular shade on a double-pane window could have as much as twice the R-value of a blind on the same window. So maybe it would be worth the switch if you live in a very cold climate. However, for summer heat, it is the shading coefficient that is important, and this will be roughly the same for cellular shades or mini blinds. So if heat is your major concern, I doubt it is worth a switch.
 

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Those guys on the forum that Rick posted are pretty serious about this stuff. Wow. I never really gave it much thought, I suppose. My bad, I also suppose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I looked at the link Rick posted several days ago, but didn't see much about $ savings at the time. When I revisited just now, I saw an energy calculator (by a blind manufacturer) that I missed before. According to that I could save $130/year using their most efficient blind. If that's correct, then there is not a payback. However, the calculator is simplistic because it doesn't take into account the type of windows, number and size of windows, efficiency of HVAC system, etc.

Our climate is what I consider as moderate, but we do have days above 100 and below 0, so both ends of the spectrum are of concern. This year we had several days above 110 which resulted in the A/C running around the clock and the inside temp pushing 82, so it would be nice to help reduce the cooling load for that type of weather.

Mike brings up a good point about the "cave" aspect of these shades, because the high R value ones don't let much light through. A dark house during daylight hours is a drawback. (The only night time light polution are the night lights my wife thinks are necessary, LOL.)

Greg - what kind of windows do you have?
 

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Nice link Rick. Thanks. I had not thought about R-factor efficiency drop off with temperature extremes, it makes sense though. I live in South-Central Texas and we usually only get 3-4 weeks of below freezing temperatures at night and less than that in the day time each year and it really does seem much easier to insulate with blinds and curtains than I remember from my years in Northern Indiana.

FWIW, I managed to cut my summer time cooling bill by $30/month just by adding a curtain at the stairs between 1st and 2nd story. Just a light weight cotton. This way I was able to run separate settings upstairs versus downstairs. We have separate heating/cooling systems for each level.
 

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The comfort that cellular (honeycomb) shades bring is a value in itself. Mini-blinds tend to direct cold air from your window into the room. Obviously there are many price points for the shades and as mentioned above window size makes a big difference in cost per shade. I suggest that people try one window or room first before ordering a whole house. Being in Vermont, we get fairly cold temperatures in the winter and moderately high temps in the summer. It is hardest to calculate savings when the fuel types/costs vary and windows on the north vs south sides of the homes tend to be exposed to different levels of sun. I had a customer mention that her bedroom was always cold (in colder times of year), then it dawned on her that she had insulating shades in all of the other rooms. Even the light filtering shades make a huge difference in my house, in every season. For what it's worth…Check out the thermal photo below. It is of an uncovered window, a window with a shade and no tracks and a shade with tracks. More information is on the R-Value Page.

 

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I heard cellular blinds are energy efficient and that they protect against noise pollution and UV rays. I read that they can help you save up to 10 or 20% on your heating bill. I'm not sure if that's true or not. In my research to find out more about cost effective blinds on the internet, I ran across a similar product, the pleated blinds: The slim 20mm pleats make the blind neatly fit into any size window. The blinds are particularly suitable for conservatories, orangeries and sunrooms. There are two types of pleated blinds, freehanging for windows and conservatory walls, skylight blinds for square and rectangular glass and conservatory ceilings. Our pleated blinds manufactured with ASC fabrics with their solar reflective backing will keep your conservatory cool in summer and save money on heating costs in winter. Our translucent fabrics gently filter and soften the light whilst still giving your room privacy.
I would go for pleated in my own home, the honeycomb look of the cellular blinds just doesn't fit my taste. As for mini blinds, I can't imagine them being cost effective. I never heard of such a thing.
Hope it helps!
 

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You can get cheap miniblinds at Lowes for as cheap at $5 (just bought a small one for bathrom window), a cellular shade of the same size was $35. That said you can easily spend that much on miniblinds if you buy the good ones, but the cheap one is good enough for me. The cellular shade is pretty neat, there was just a button on the bottom bar you pressed in and it allowed you to raise or lower the shade.
 

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They are very energy efficient but you need to check the rating. Some companies provide that information where others don't. I bought 40 blinds for 2 homes a few years back and wanted them to be very energy efficient since one was my daughters and the other the new home we were moving into. Don't go cheap. I can tell you that some look like cellular shades but don't even come close to performing like you would expect. I shopped around and found a few companies but they were expensive. A good honeycomb shade will run you $500-800 per window in our estimate depending on size. You can go to home depot and pay a fraction but you do get what you pay for.
 
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