Ideas for western facing windows on new home

gopackJuly 25, 2007

We are in the design phase of a new home in Texas. One thing I really want is a window in my kitchen so we designed that part of the house so the kitchen has a nice large window facing the front of the house which faces west. The breakfast room and family room will extend to the back of the house.

I am looking for ways to block the hot afternoon sun but still have some light or some view out of the window. I mean, I can surely put up blinds and close them up tight. But that defeats the purpose of having a window. Are there some kind of shades that will block the heat but you can still see through them? I thought I saw something like that once.

I know this is a common problem. Just looking for any ideas. Thanks!!

I will post this in the windows forum also.

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Have you considered solar shades? I have a western facing window in my sewing room that gets blazing sun in the summer. I put up a roller solar shade - it does not block the view, but cuts the sun's rays way down.

You can look at them at Smith and Noble, or JCPenney - just do a search for "solar shade".

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 3:14PM
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There is also a product by Hunter Douglas called "Silhouette". It is a cross between a cellular pleated shade and a blind. The interior vanes are solid fabric between 2 layers of sheer material. When the louvered portion is open and the sheers are down you can still see through but they cut alot of the heat and glare.
I have used them in Western facing windows before and they do a good job.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 3:58PM
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See this thread.

Here is a link that might be useful: Window Films

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 5:12PM
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Would a pergola help crerate some shade? (You can also grow vines on one.)

We have Pella french doors off our breakfast room with between-the-glass shades. Ours are opaque, but they come in a range of density.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 6:17PM
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I'm also in Texas and our house will have awnings over all the west facing windows. I'm also doing wood plantation shutters on the inside of the windows because they face the street and I'm not concerned about blocking the view.

This is what our awnings will look like:

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 9:08PM
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Why not buy a good window?
Non heat conducting frame (vinyl, or aluminum with wood interior) with a low e coated glass?
Look for Solar Heat Gain Coefficients (shgc) & U-factors of less than .32
This info is on label on windows that are rated by NFRC, an independent testing lab. The label also includes climate specific info.
These windows allow less heat gain making it easier to heat & cool home.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 9:49PM
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Nothing wrong with the other suggestions, but since you are still in the design phase, I'd go for a nice wide entry porch that will block direct sun until very late in the evening.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 10:10PM
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If possible, have windows on two walls. The front of our house faces east, and the living room faces west. We have windows on two walls in every room in our house. We just used HunterDouglas duettes in "white iris" in the rooms that face east and west. You can't see through them, but they let in a lot of light and really don't darken the room much at all and then we can always look out the windows that are on the other walls so that we don't feel closed in. If you can't do windows on two walls, then silhouettes are great as are solar shades, awnings and porches (if you don't want natural lighting coming in at all) that others suggested. Also, large overhangs on your roof help too, if they are over a window as well as planting shade trees outside our windows.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 11:52PM
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kellyeng, you have a gorgeous home. Anymore pictures? Where are you in Texas?

Thank you!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 2:29AM
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Oh Trudy, that's not my house. It's the SL Idea house 2003 in Austin. I'm in San Marcos.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 10:58AM
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I like to have as much light as possible coming through my windows, so I hate closing blinds and shades. You might consider an exterior retractible sunscreen. These can come with sun and wind sensors so they open automatically when the sun hits them, and also close automatically during windy conditions. That way you'll have a clear view in the morning and at night, with the shades only closed when there's direct sun. Even with them closed you'll still be able to see out, as they're essentially like a very heavy bug screen.

An awning is also a great idea. You can also do retractible awnings, again with sun and wind sensors. What's also cool if you do a patio outside the window, is a slatted roof system where the slats can open and close to provide more or less shade.

I love the idea of tints also, but unfortunately window films will void many window warranties (for sealed dual-pane windows), so I haven't done any tints on my windows even though I'd like to.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 1:17PM
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So many great ideas here!! Thanks! I am already planning a rooflike overhang on the outside of the window, very similar to the rooflike overhang on the front entry in Kellyeng's photo. (Love that house!). So that should help somewhat. We already have a full porch planned for the front door and dining room windows, so I can't add another porch in this location.

I will look into the other thoughtful suggestions. Love the idea of a retractable outside sun shade. Hmmm...

Another idea I had last night was to install inside louvered shutters, similar to plantation shutters but not as bulky, that I can open fully during the early part of the day and then close in the afternoon and still allow some light in. Maybe do a set on the bottom half of the window and do an insulated Roman shade on the top half. Any thoughts on how this might look or work?

I am printing this out to put in my file. Thanks SO much!


    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 2:51PM
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To build on what was mentioned upstream, have you considered extending your roofline out since you are still in design-mode? It's not that much more expensive for the trusses and it negates the ($$) need to install soffits underneath, too.

As a result, you will block the summer sune and allow the low, winter sun in. These are southeast and south views.

The west, neighbor-side of the house has only clerestory windows (except in the master bathroom) that mirror the ones on street side. They are at the 12 foot level and are summer-shaded by the roof pitch on each side, yet allow in a ton of light. They also allow for cross-ventilation on the 6.7 days a year you can open your windows in Dallas!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 3:25PM
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You are in design phase. At this point it is really easy to incorporate ideas that relate to the actual architectural features of your new home - such as extended roof overhangs - that will affect the overall energy performance of your home.

To be considering things such as window films, interior shades, even retractable exterior shades during the design phase is putting the cart before the horse - IMO.

As ERLA (hiya ERLA!) mentioned earlier, put your concerns into ensuring that you have the best energy performing windows that you can afford. Absolutely ensure that those windows have a LowE2 or a LowE3 coating - both are designed to block direct solar gain - as part of the glass package and then, when the windows are in place and you are settling into your new home, you will be able to determine if your architectural features and energy efficient windows are doing the job that they were hired to do. Namely, keeping solar heat out of your home.

I am going to strongly suggest that at that time you won't be concerned about blocking excessive heat build up thru your windows and you won't be concerned about "exotic fixes" because you won't be needing them.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 9:39PM
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Living in a fairly cloudy region our west facing windows had a different problem: lack of light. There's a porch running the entire west side of the house so the architect designed skylights into the porch roof in front of the study's window. They're just in the porch roof but let a good amount of light into the room. Tom

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 9:43AM
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I insisted on all windows being low E plus filled with Argon gas. My old neighbor had his windows replaced with these and they made a tremendous difference from regular windows. My builder thought I was being anal about the windows, but now that he has done HIS research, he agrees with me. You are at the design phase to do these things now.

Here is a link that might be useful: window info

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 12:40AM
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