Metal blinds put dam­per on en­ergy costs

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Pa­trick Langston

A NEW line of win­dow cov­er­ings could help keep you toasty warm this win­ter.

So­larChoice vertical blinds con­sist of heat-ab­sorb­ing alu­minum in­serts in­side plas­tic sleeves. When the sun’s rays strike the blind, the metal warms, cre­at­ing a nat­u­ral con­vec­tion that draws cool air from the bot­tom and passes heated air out the top.

They won’t heat your home on their own, but with air ex­it­ing from the top re­ported to be 48C to 60C and no en­ergy re­quired to op­er­ate them, they could be a valu­able ad­di­tion to your green home arse­nal.

Test­ing at the Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota shows the blinds pro­duce over five BTUs of heat per square inch of win­dow glass, says the blinds’ in­ven­tor, Keith McKinzie. On a stan­dard bed­room win­dow, that would be roughly 4,300 BTUs. A 5,000 BTU por­ta­ble heater will ser­vice a room of about 200 square feet.

The com­pany says the blinds, which it calls heaters and can be used in any type of win­dow, can re­duce heat­ing costs by up to 35 per cent.

Avail­able at www.so­lar­choice­blinds. com, a blind for that stan­dard bed­room win­dow would cost about $255 U.S. The prod­uct, which can be mounted in­side or out­side the win­dow, comes with a lim­ited life­time war­ranty.

McKinzie says he’s been tin­ker­ing with so­lar en­ergy for years.

“In our first home, I tried putting black trash bags over the cur­tain rungs in the liv­ing room.’’

His sense of es­thet­ics, and his tech­no­log­i­cal know-how, have since im­proved.

Re­mem­ber, though, that to ben­e­fit from the blinds, they need to be closed, mean­ing you lose your view from that win­dow.

As well, you couldn’t use them to shield your home from the sum­mer sun un­less you want to live in a green­house.

The blinds, made of a non-yel­low­ing plas­tic, work best in a south-fac­ing win­dow where the sun’s heat is great­est, McKinzie says.

Last year in his own home, he adds, “We saw a dras­tic de­crease in our fuel bill.”

— Canwest News Ser­vice

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