Hunting for the ideal in window insulation

Q. I am looking for the perfect insulating window covering. Commercial window coverings that insulate are inherently costly, usually unsightly, and cannot stand alone without expensive draperies. Removable panels are inconvenient to use and store. Operable windows need a system to positively check the draft. What, in your opinion, is the best window-insulation system? The Monitor printed a good article on the subject Feb. 18, 1981. Steven F. Walton Rochester, Mich.

A. Alas, perfection on this planet in sun screens may indeed be a dream. Aesthetic perfection to you might be anathema to your neighbor. Mechanical weather control in Michigan winters might be intolerable in Arizona-desert summers. This all leads to some practicalities about climate-control measures and materials.

Several kinds of louvers, shutters, blinds, and screens - some inside, some out - are commercially available for windows and doors. Some are expensive, others modestly priced.

True, their effectiveness varies, as does their appearance.

Liquid and paste-on sun-screen materials offered by several manufacturers for inside or outside use are modestly priced, practical, and relatively efficient. These tinted overlays are recommended to control solar-energy heat gain.

Energy-efficient drapes are a boon to many a homeowner who desires climate control in either winter or summer. Maximum control is assisted by supplementing drapes with a secondary screen or shield at the glass, inside or out, permanent or detachable.

Various homemade overlays are effective for owners with modest budgets or for do-it-yourselfers. Of course, storm windows, solar glass, or double and triple glazing are primary answers to control the heat that flows in or out of a building.

The Feb. 18, 1981, article in the Monitor contained several methods of shielding windows and doors from the weather. It recommended obtaining pamphlets from utility companies, federal and state consumer departments, colleges and universities, and county agricultural extension services, as well as commercial manufacturers.

Seek the window or door climate-control treatment that most perfectly fits your budget and the mechanical-aesthetic formula for your climatic region and specific house style.

You may have to be satisfied with what's nearest right rather than the perfect answer. However near or far from perfection, whatever you do to control heat loss or heat gain through exterior openings will afford a pleasant return, both in comfort and economy.

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