Help me insulate my windows from the Florida heat/sun.
May 31, 2006 10:19 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to insulate my window/frame... can anyone help me devise a solution?

I live on the 2nd story of an apartment with a window that directly faces the sun. This is in middle Florida. The window is 70" wide x 6' tall. Basically, my room turns into a raging inferno by 9AM. We're talking at least 10-20 degrees hotter than the rest of the apartment (there are 3 other bedrooms), hot enough to melt chocolate. I've actually moved everything out of the way, set up a lawn chair and openned the blinds and tanned in the morning in my room.

Currently I have plastic blinds and a denim shower curtain to block out sunlight... and it is mildly effective at keeping the light out, but hardly effective at keeping heat out (it probably doesn't help that the shower curtain is black).

Between March and September every year we end up paying 10-30 dollars a month each in electricity overages, and I believe that this heat is a major source (we keep the AC around 75/77).

What I would like to do is have some kind of retractable insulation that could cover my entire window frame during most of the day, and could fold back when it begins to cool down. Is there some sort of thin, reflective film solution, that is flexible and affordable (50-100$ per window frame in the apartment)?
posted by mhuckaba to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about an awning?
posted by jellicle at 10:24 AM on May 31, 2006

I know you can get insulation which has a reflective surface, and then a foam core. If you put this in each window, it will block out 99% of the light (the cracks around the sides where it meets the frame won't be perfect) This should keep out a lot of the heat, though it's not foldable.

Another option are "black-out" type curtains. It's a thick material on a roller which is lightproof. It's good when you have to work nightshift, because it lets in very little light. The ones i've seen are white, which would do a fine job of reflecting most of the light.
posted by defcom1 at 10:26 AM on May 31, 2006

Response by poster: An awning isn't a viable option, as we're not allowed to modify the exterior of our apartment. Technically I'm not supposed to do any modifications to the interior, but they don't really care.

While browsing for insulation on Google I saw the reflective insulation you mention defcom, with a foam or bubble core. I'm not talking about folding it up every day or anything, maybe rolling it like once a week or something.
posted by mhuckaba at 10:33 AM on May 31, 2006

There is a blue tinted window film that blocks UV. Probably sold at the big home store chains.
posted by StarForce5 at 10:38 AM on May 31, 2006

I would buy a sheet of the type of insulation that Defcom1 mentions. Cut it to fit the window, fairly snugly. Then cut it vertically into maybe 3 strips of equal width. Take some duct tape and tape it back together, but on alternating sides so that the screen folds up when you want it out of the way.
posted by LarryC at 10:41 AM on May 31, 2006

Response by poster: Thats what I'm thinking Larry. I'd like to install some kind of guide/roll for easy opening, but I'm going to go take a look at how flexible it is first at Home Depot or somewhere.
posted by mhuckaba at 10:55 AM on May 31, 2006

mhuckaba--what folks are referring to is a "radiant barrier", most often used in attics to keep them cooler in the summer. Radiant barriers come in reflective foil, reflective paint and reflective chips.

Often, the reflective surface of a foil radiant barrier will be backed by material that is poor at absorbing heat. I think that reflective foil would be the way to go. However, to maximize its effectiveness, radiant products are generally installed facing an open air space. The best position for it would be outside of the window glass and behind the screen. I'm wondering if installing it INSIDE the window glass will generate heat from the reflective surface that will circulate inside of your apartment. If so, what you need is a material that will act more as a "heat sink" and I'd have to think about what that would be. (Any materials engineers in the house?)
posted by jeanmari at 11:16 AM on May 31, 2006

Response by poster: The problem is I can't install it between blinds and the glass... apartments have to look uniform (no pictures etc in the window). I was thinking that it would be a close to airtight barrier.
posted by mhuckaba at 11:26 AM on May 31, 2006

Check out this MetaChat post from earlier today. There are two different kinds of heat lowering clear window film linked to in the thread, and a few other good, cheap ideas.
posted by iconomy at 11:30 AM on May 31, 2006

Insulated curtains might help along with the reflective film.
posted by electroboy at 2:23 PM on May 31, 2006

If you don't wish to apply films, I would suggest looking into a combination of pleated, insulated blinds and full-length sheers. Those two together should knock-down the heat gain to livable levels and still keep the room reasonably lit.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:36 PM on May 31, 2006

Try some mylar space blanket taped to the edges of the frame. Shiniest side out. Cheap, so it's not a big risk. If you can put up mini-blinds, I've seen some that are reflective on one side, white on the other.
posted by theora55 at 5:59 PM on May 31, 2006

Summer's coming around again and I found myself asking the same question. Here's what I found.

Solar Curtain from Walter Drake.
DIY Heat blocking curtains from Instructables.
posted by Sufi at 9:40 AM on May 19, 2007

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