If you replace your inefficient, old single-pane windows with double-pane windows, your home could feel more comfortable and your air conditioning and heating bills could drop. But replacing a houseful of windows is expensive.
For some, a better investment is in exterior shade screens, which can block 80 percent of the solar heat gain that wafts through sun-struck windows.
Half of the heat that gets into your house from the outdoor weather comes right through the windows. Shade screens can keep that heat out for a much lower investment than new windows can. The windows with the most sun exposure face west, south and southeast.
The shades are installed on the exterior of clear glass windows on rooms that are air-conditioned.
Check with your electric utility before you buy shade screens to learn about rebates. Plus, consider planting shade trees or installing canvas awnings over sun-exposed windows. The more sun-supplied heat you can keep out of your house, the less your air conditioner has to compete with it to keep your home cool.