Screens? They keep out bugs; now some also keep out heat. Tests show that this solar screening can cut the heat coming in by as much as 60 percent.
It looks more like a white fabric than like screening, with the usual single strands across, but bands of seven strands running lengthwise. This ribbed weave gives it a striped look, plus far more surface area to absorb and then dissipate solar energy before it can enter your home.
The weave also makes solar screening more "opague": You can see out, but your view won't be as bright and contrasty as with ordinary screening -- especially when the sun hits the screens directly. During the day, solar screens appear opaque from outside, offering privacy. Solar screening makes most sense on south or west windows; if your home has windows that seem to gain a lot of heat in the summer, you might like to try it.
You can buy it either by itself or in kits that include a vinyl spline for anchoring the screening in aluminum frames and a roller for inserting the spline. If you already have aluminum framed screens, the job's easy with a kit. Take the screen down and pull out the spline and the old screening. Cut the new screening to the outside dimensions of the frame and place it on top of the frame.
Cut a piece of spline slightly longer than the end of the frame, center it on top of the screening and over the groove in the frame, and carefully press it in. Cut off excess spline at the corners of the frame and tamp the ends down with a screwdriver.
Now pull the opposite end of the screen taut and set the spline at the end. Then spline the other two sides of the screen. Some excess screening will stick up around the edges of the frame. Trim this off with a utility knife, slanting it toward the outside of the frame so you won't slice into the spline.