As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, I had insulated window quilts installed on most of my home's windows. I should have bought window quilts for all of our windows, but I refrained from doing so on two downstairs windows to save money (which, in the long run, I didn't). There were window shades already there; they didn't do much from a thermal perspective, but they did provide privacy and room darkening. Well, they need to be replaced now, and I'm looking again at high efficiency thermal window shades. This time I'm considering thermal Roman shades.

About a dozen years ago my wife and I went on the Tour of Solar Homes, the local component of the annual National Solar Tour sponsored by the American Solar Energy Society. One of the homes we visited had thermal Roman shades. The homeowner had made them herself and was very proud of them. She made them out of several layers, including an inner reflective vapor barrier, making the composition nearly identical to my window quilts.

A few months ago I sat down at the computer and searched the Internet to see what's available. I found companies that make thermal Roman shade kits for those of you who are handy at sewing. There are also instructions on how to make them yourself from scratch, such as those available from The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and from Humboldt State University (PDF 139 KB).

I also found a company that manufactures ready-made Roman shades with a magnetic sealing edge and consisting of four layers:

  • Lining with fabric protector
  • High-density polyester fiber commonly used for the filling in pillows
  • Reflective polyethylene moisture vapor barrier
  • Metallicized Mylar with air-trapping fibers

The company claims that this unique 4-layer system increases the R-value of single-pane windows to 7.69—more than three times that of most windows. I'm not sure what the R-value will be placing an insulated Roman shade on my double-pane windows, but it has to be high.

John's getting ready to install the thermally insulated Roman shade.

My wife reviewed the color and design samples available on their Web site, and then I shot them an e-mail requesting swatches to look at. They came promptly in the mail. I put in my order in mid-February. When I called them, they suggested that I take photos of the windows and e-mail them, which I did. They were able to look at how my windows are installed so that I was measuring them properly. They reviewed my windows promptly and shot me an e-mail with a quote that same day, and I placed the order immediately.

Several weeks later. Oh, there's the door bell. Our custom shades were just delivered. The installation instructions look simple enough. I should have them up this weekend. It's too late for this winter's savings, but in time for the summer savings. I don't need air conditioning downstairs where the Roman shades will be installed, so I don't expect to see much of a savings this summer. But come next winter… I'll keep you informed.

Write in and let us hear of your thermal insulated window shade experiences. We'd love to learn about what works for you.