March 21, 2023

Evaluation of the Thermal and Moisture Performance of Insulating Shades


Heat transfer through windows accounts for a significant percentage of a building’s energy use and adds substantially to the peak heating and cooling loads of a home. Over the past 20 years, residential window attachment retrofit technologies have been developed that significantly increase the number of options available to home builders, homeowners, and utilities when considering upgrades of overall window performance. Within the interior window attachments category, honeycomb cellular shades typically have the highest R-values because of their layered or concentric designs. During the winter when the window is fully covered, however, the added insulation reduces the amount of warm indoor air that reaches the window surface, thereby lowering the temperature of the window glass and frame and increasing the potential for condensation to collect on the interior surface of the window. The degree to which this potential is realized depends on the indoor and outdoor conditions as well as the overall thermal resistance of the window and the shades. To examine the condensation buildup potential on the interior surface of the window and the conditions under which this occurs, this report describes experimental research conducted by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in collaboration with Hunter Douglas, using a a controlled environmental test chamber at the Hunter Douglas facility in Broomfield, Colorado. The results will be used to inform the Attachments Energy Rating Council, which provides energy performance information on all rated window attachments products.

Published: March 21, 2023


Pilet T.J., S. Mullaly, E. Bauer, and K.A. Cort. 2022. Evaluation of the Thermal and Moisture Performance of Insulating Shades Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

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