Contemporary homes are all about natural light. Some barely use drywall and opt for window walls. Skylights are becoming a common feature, too. Even bathrooms and basements bathe in natural light.

Letting natural light in is for reasons beyond aesthetics. Natural light is energy efficient and good for our health. In addition, it can make a small space look bigger. But there’s a catch; from mid-morning to noon, natural light comes with blazing heat.

Even if you have window films and drapes, the heat can still pass through them. Aside from raising the temperature inside your home, the sunlight can also damage some of your furniture. It can wash out the color of fabric and paint.

But shutting out natural light isn’t an option. Whether you like it or not, you need it, unless you want to pay higher bills. Thankfully, there’s a hack: use window treatments that let the light in with reduced glare. Below are your top options:

Interior Window Treatments

  • Solar Shades

Also known as “window sunglasses,” solar shades let in a lot of light but stave off the sun’s heat. They come in a range of openness factors, from 3% to 14%. Lower openness gives a more opaque finish, while higher openness gives a sheer one. Considering that, solar shades with lower openness may suit bathrooms and bedrooms, where privacy is required. For the common areas, solar shades with higher openness will look best.

  • Insulated Cellular Shades

This type of window treatment is made of pleated material and designed like an accordion. Some insulated cellular shades contain multiple air layers in a honeycomb pattern. Their purpose is to allow you to control the amount of daylight entering your space.

Insulated cellular shades may limit your outside view during a sunny day, though. They’re completely opaque. As such, they suit areas where outdoor views aren’t essential, like bathrooms or home theaters.

  • Quilted Window Blinds

Quilted window blinds are also opaque, but their energy efficiency doesn’t disappoint. To let the light in but keep the heat out, roll up the blinds only until the point the sun rays don’t reach directly.

  • Wood Blinds
    wood blinds

Wood blinds may be a little old-fashioned, but in a contemporary home, they can look timeless. Although they disrupt natural light and create shadows, they won’t necessarily make your space gloomy. If wood blinds are installed on a south-facing window, you won’t have problems with a little disruption.

  • Panel Track Blinds

If your sliding glass doors are the ones responsible for the heat inside your home, consider covering them with panel track blinds. They’re made of fabric panels that filter light and heat well. The blinds’ texture can also give more dimension to your space. If you go for a modern farmhouse style, panel track blinds will fit the design perfectly.

  • Blackout Curtains

If you’re not a fan of sunlight at all, blackout curtains can be the best option for you. With them, not only will your home be cooler, but the color of your paint and furniture will stay vibrant. They may darken your space, but if you prefer a moody environment, your space won’t be any less beautiful.

Budget-wise, blackout curtains aren’t the cheapest choice, but they are energy-efficient.

  • Plantation Shutters

Plantation shutters look similar to wood blinds, but instead of rolling them up, you open them from their hinges. They’re available in different materials, such as vinyl, solid vinyl with aluminum insert, and composite platinum. What’s good about plantation shutters is their larger louvers. They’re spaced farther apart than the louvers on wood blinds. As a result, they let in much more daylight but keep the heat at bay.

Exterior Window Treatments

You can also install treatments outside your windows. An exterior window treatment may allow you to go for sheer drapes or blinds since they can handle the job of blocking the heat. Here are your top exterior window treatment options:

  • Awnings

In summer, an awning on a south-facing window can reduce solar heat gain by 65%. On a west-facing window, it can reduce up to 77%. However, an awning requires ventilation to prevent hot air from becoming trapped around the window. As such, it may not decrease your cooling bill by much in summer.

  • Exterior Shutters

Exterior shutters are most effective in reducing solar heat gain. They’re typically made of fabric or vinyl, with some openings to avoid restricting your outdoor view. You can also control them from inside your home, a feature that can be required by local fire codes.

With any of these window treatments, you can create the perfect balance between rich sunlight and comfortable temperature. You’ll pay lower energy bills, too. These window treatments are also beneficial in winter because they can keep you warm and cozy.

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