My windows are not the most efficient, but they are still in good condition. To improve efficiency and provide more security and safety from storms, I might install rolling shutters. What features should I look for?—Jerri H.
Having windows that are still in good condition but are not the most energy efficient is common. If good-quality windows were installed within the past decade, they should last a long time with little maintenance. This is particularly true for windows with vinyl or thermally broken aluminum frames. Windows with pultruded fiberglass should last practically a lifetime.
Adding rolling shutters on the exterior of your windows improves their efficiency and also offers security and storm protection. These shutters are commonly used in hurricane zones.
The energy savings from shutters depend on the type of window glass you have and the type of slats in them. If your house has double-pane windows, shutters will about double their insulation value. With single-pane windows, the efficiency increase will be even greater.
You can get additional energy savings during the summer because the rolling shutters also block heat from the sun’s rays. The shutters can be lowered to any position to allow in only as much light (and heat) as you desire.
How rolling shutters work
Rolling shutters are extremely strong and secure because they operate much like a rolltop desk. Narrow slats roll up into a box housing above the window. The ends of each slat slide in vertical tracks, making them relatively airtight when fully closed. The slat itself provides insulation, as does the dead air space created between the shutter and the window glass.
Roll-formed metal, plastic, or extruded aluminum is used to make the slats. The extruded aluminum slats are the strongest and most expensive, and are often used on shutters for large windows. Roll-formed metal slats can be filled with foam insulation for higher efficiency.
An important feature to consider is how the rolling shutter is opened and closed, usually with a pull strap, a crank handle, or an electric motor. For most small- to average-sized windows, a pull strap is easy to use and inexpensive. Large shutters may be easier to operate with a hand crank. Electric motors are most convenient, but also more expensive.
Less-expensive window options
Although rolling shutters offer many advantages in addition to energy efficiency, there are other lower-cost options to consider. It is relatively inexpensive to install magnetically attached acrylic interior storm windows.
Some of the new low-emissivity permanent window films save energy year-round. They are nearly clear and you can install them yourself. Both options also block much of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Installing insulating window shades or curtains is also effective.