TED AND Louise Okada plan to be warm and save money this winter. Not only their 52 windows (including those in the garage), but their six pairs of sliding glass doors and four skylights are all covered in the latest in window dressings -- Window Quilt. This is the second winter the Okadas have had their quilts in their hilltop Rock Creek home.
Window Quilt (the trade name), produced by the Appropriate Technology Corporation (ATC) in Brattleboro, Vt., has only been on the market for three years, but already the increase in sales, according to area Window Quilt dealer Dick Ningard (owner of Spectra Associates in Great Falls, Va.), has more than doubled.
Window Quilt is just what it sounds like: a quilted fabric that is mounted on a track (like a shade) to cover the window. Like a shade it behaves as an insulator, but is more effective because its five-layer construction allows it to store solar energy, thus keeping the room warmer for a longer period of time. The five layers, which togeter are about 3/8-inch thick, are joined every few inches by ultrasonic fabric welds. The thermal-resistance, or R-factor is 3.5. When rolled up, the quilt can be hidden by a valance -- which Louise Okada decided to do without since their bone-white quilts blend fabously with the bone-while walls throughout their house. house.
They are not cheap, however.David Wood, marketing manager for ATC, says the suggested price is $4.25 per square foot. A typical double-hung window, measuring 2 1/2 by 4 feet, costs about $75 if installed by the owner, and about $50 more, if put in by the dealer, says Ningard. A 6-foot sliding glass door costs about $230, installed by the owner, and again, $50 more by the dealer. All are custom-made by a dozen Window Quilt distributors in the Washington area. (ATC says they have 1,100 dealers throughout the country.)
"And," adds Albert Nunez, vice president of North American Solar Development Corp., in Great Falls, Va., "the quilts are not for the person whol likes to sleep late in the morning. To have a passive solar house you have to participate. Ou have to get into a routine where you raise the shades regularly in the morning and lower them at night."
The idea of insulated windows is, of course, not a new one. Storm windows, draperies, curtains, shades and (more recently) "insul-shutters" are all ways in which the homeowner can cut back on the heating bill. "Glass," says Ningard, "has always been a poor insulator. So finding ways to cut back on heat loss makes a lot of sense."
Like a shade, a Window Quilt can be raised or lowered to block the sun or provide you with a view. "It's so light that even children or the elderly can operate them with ease," says ATC's Wood. The quilts come in bone white, white, camel and Mediterranean blue. Wood says the Okadas' low heating bill doesn't surprise him: "The greatest heat loss is through windows, according to studies on the subject. We tell customers to expect heating costs to decrease between 30 and 40 percent."
The energy-effcient Okadas (who lastt year sold their Mercedes for a diesel-fueled Volkswagen Rabbit) say the quilts also work well in the summer. d"We keep them drawn," says Louise Okada, "unless we're in the room."
Nunez's North American Solar Development Corp. carries both the roll-up Window Quilt shade and the Window Quilt panel (which attaches to the window by magnetic strips and must be rolled up by hand and hooked up). Nunez says, "The Quilts are really catching on . . . they're our bread and butter."
Deciding where to install a window covering is the first step in the process of insulating. North-facing windows (those that receive the least sunlight) are the first to target for coverings. And for comforts's sake, bedrooms require more insulation than other parts of the house that are not used throughout the night.
Making your own quilted window shade is also an alternative. Ray Wolf, author of "Insulating Window Shade," (published 1980, by Rodale Press, $14.95) claims heat loss through windows can be reduced by 80 percent with the do-ti-yourself Rodale Insulated Window Shade. One great advantage to making the shades yourself is the choice of fabric -- you can snap on a fabric that matches your upholstery, carpet, wallpaper, etc. Wolf provides you with two ways to mount the shade -- on the wall or on the window -- and with blueprints dettailing the specifics. The directions are cear, but must be followed exactly. "The best thermal shade in the world," warns Wolf, "will work poorly if made or installed improperly; correct installation and accurate measurements are crucial to making an effective shade."
Chapters on the tools you will need, sizing the sahde, sewing the shade and assembling the roller box are also included. In sewing the fabric, Wolf suggests using four separate layers of quilted material, alternated with a layer of aluminized Mylar -- making the shade seven layers thick. (Mylar is sturdy, plastic film that is slightly flexible and is impervious to water and air. Its aluminized coating gives it a high reflective rating -- so it blocks radiant heat loss.) "Shades require a multi-layered fabric," says Wolf, "for maximum thermal value."
The type of exterior fabric used doesn't matter, says Wolf. The can range from 100 percent cotton to milled blends to 100 percent artificial fabric for the side facing in and the side facing out. To finish off the fabric, Wolf advises using a bias tape to bind the seven layered edges.
Another book on the market, "Thermal Shutters & Shades" by William A. Shurcliff (published in 1980 by Brick House Publishing Co. Inc., $12.95) provides you with a number of ways to reduce heat loss through windows. Some of his ideas: outside opague shutters, inside opaque shutters, indoor opaque roll-up shades, indoor transparent and transulucent devices, etc.
Shurcliff writes, "Most persons concerned about heat loss already have installed storm windows or have windows of Thermopane, Twindow, or the like."
Shurcliff devotes a chapter to the theory behind these energy-saving devices, "How Heat Is Lost Through Windows." He begins with basic explanations of heat and heat loss but then gets rather technical with discussions on the rate of heat loss through windows by conduction and by radiation. All his explanations are clear, however, and his installation descriptions of the different window treatments are all well-detailed.
Other window dressings caried in the are include:
InsulShutter by Erinsol is an air-tight folding insulated window shutter developed about two years ago, that combines a rigid insulation core within a solid basswood frame. The thermal-resistance, or R-factor, of the shutters with fixed single glazing is 9.1. Cost: $9.15 per square foot for the flush shutter and $13.50 per square foot for the inlaid shutter, uninstalled plus freight and tax charges. The cost for a 2 1/2-by-4-foot window is $91.50 for flush and $135 for inlaid. It blocks cold air as well as conduction, convection and radiation heat loss. It will also, claims Erinson, prevent heat from penetrating your room during the summer. InsulShutter can be purchased in this area at North American Solar Development Corp. in Great Falls, Va.
Insulated curtains by Burlington are available at the Hecht Co. for $24.99 a pair and up. The foam-backed drapes come in a natural beige tone, gold and avocado. The size start at 50 inches wide by 84 inches long.
Minute-Man Storm Window Shade is a simpler, cheaper (and less effective) treatment than some of the more expensive and elaborate ones but will worth considering. It consists of 6-millimeter-thick clear vinyl that comes on a roller like a shade. When pulled down, it seals against the double-faced tape that you must stretch along the window's perimeter. Hechinger's carries it: $7.88 for a roll measuring 37 1/4 inches by 6 feet; $9.88 for a roll measuring 55 1/2 inches by 6 feet.
Now, the big question: Do any of these window dressings, known officially as movable window insulation, qualify for the passive solar tax credit? Yes and no, says Domenic LaPonzina, public affairs officer for the Internal Revenue Service. "If the window quilt (or InsulShutter or insulated drapes, etc.) is installed as part of an entire solar-heating system then it counts as a tax credit.
"However, if the window dressing is installed alone -- without the additional solar components -- it does not qualify as a tax credit." Despite what solar energy experts say, LaPonzina says Window Quilts do not store solar energy without the othere complementary solar components.
Solar energy advocates are annoyed with this ruling, particularly since storm windows, which they calim are three to four times less effective than Window Quilts, are allowed as tax credits. Storm windows however were written into the energy-saving laws by Congress.
LaPonzina replied "That's the law and that's the way we enforce it; Congress wrote it that way."
If you're not sure whether the money you've invested qualifies you for a tax credit, give IRS a call, explaining your particular situation.