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Shutters and R-Values: Compare Energy-Efficient Window Treatments

June 13, 2017

We’re big talkers on the subject of energy efficiency in window treatments. But that’s because we’ve got proof to back up our claims. With the help of some objective research, we can chart the energy efficiency of the most often-chosen window coverings in Washington DC, from blinds to drapes to shutters.

What Is R-Value And Why Does It Matter For Window Treatments?

Everything in your house that separates indoors from outdoors, from the walls to your windows, has an R-value. That value tells you how effective it is at blocking thermal energy from passing through it. A higher r-value corresponds to a better insulator.

honeycomb shades in Washington DC home 

So what difference does the r-value of a window covering make? Well, a better insulator makes it easier to keep your space at a comfortable temperature. No matter if you want to keep in the heat at wintertime or want to stay cool during the summer months, you need good insulation. That’s extra necessary for your windows, because they’re a likely reason for energy loss in your home.

Comparing R-values & Energy Efficiency Of Window Treatments

You don’t get the same benefits from every window treatment, at least not in energy efficiency. Though there’s some variation based on the material and construction between different manufacturers and models, here’s what you’re likely to find when comparing window treatments.

Window Covering

Average R-Value

No window treatment




Pleated shades




Hardwood Shutters


Cellular shades


Polywood plantation shutters


R-values from HouseLogic &

A short study of the table tells you a few things. Perhaps the first thing you notice is that some window treatments offer almost no benefit at all (looking at you, blinds), whereas others are energy-efficient beasts. That big gap in R-value might mean a difference of several degrees – that’s the difference in whether or not you turn on your air conditioning.

Something else you might notice is that the material of your window treatment makes a big difference. Cellular shades, which are made with several engineered layers designed to block heat, are able to stop energy flow much better than pleated shades.

white shutters in Washington DC great room 

Likewise, Polywood® plantation shutters, made from a completely solid faux wood polymer, are able to repel heat a heap better than hardwood shutters. Natural wood can be cavernous, with random gaps and knots that allow heat to flow through them easily. Polywood shutters, outfitted with custom weatherstripping, build a solid seal on your window when closed, which is why they have that best in class r-value of more than 6.

Up Your Home’s R-value

The science doesn’t lie. Your window treatments play a big part in how comfortable your space can be. Could your home be a little more comfortable? We’ll help. Have a chat with the team at Sunburst Shutters DC by calling 240-339-2588, or use our free estimate request form below.