Saving Money And Energy With Solar Screens

by Tammy Taylor

*this post contains affiliate links

Living in the hot/humid environment of Northeast Texas, we built our home with passive solar design in mind.  The steps we made during construction have made a pretty drastic impact on our typical energy usage.  But not everyone is in the construction phase of their home.

No worries, there are easy and inexpensive ways to keep the heat of summer outside where it belongs. And doing so will let you cash in on lower utility bills. And one such way is with solar screens. These screens are made of a special material that shades your windows from almost all of the sun’s heat yet still allows you to see outside.

They also reduce sun-fade on interior fabrics, offer a higher level of privacy than standard screens and I love the way they look on our home.  But although they really do make a drastic difference in the heat coming through your windows, having these specialty screens installed can sometimes be kinda pricey.  (now here’s the part you’re really gonna love)  We made solar screens ourselves in an afternoon and saved a ton!

We made our own solar screens in an afternoon! Read how solar screens save you money keeping that summer heat OUTSIDE where it belongs! #TexasHomesteader

Simple Supplies Needed

Here’s how you can too:  First carefully measure the windows that you want to make screens for.  There’s a short list of supplies you’ll need to make your solar screens. You’ll need the hardware to make the screen’s frame, frame corners to connect the pieces into your window-sized rectangle. and spline to hold the screen to the frame.  Depending on the size of the screen you might want cross braces as well to hold everything rigid.

You’ll also need the actual solar screen material, and it comes in several different colors. I searched and found different widths and colors of * solar screen at Amazon so even if you don’t have a big-box home improvement store handy you can have solar screen shipped directly to your home!

We only needed three simple hand tools to assemble our screens. A hacksaw to cut the frame to size, a spline tool to roll the spline onto the frame to hold the screen in place, and a razor blade to carefully trim the excess screen material after it was attached.  Bada-boom, bada-bing – SCREENS!

We made our own solar screens in an afternoon! Read how solar screens save you money keeping that summer heat OUTSIDE where it belongs! #TexasHomesteader

Solar Screen Not Needed On All Windows

We don’t need solar screens on every window on our home, just the problem ones that face the east. (we have no western-facing windows)  Each year at the first hint of summer heat we slide the screens onto those few eastern-facing windows.

Then in the fall we remove the screens and place them back up in the attic so we can get that lower-level winter sunshine through those windows to help give the house light/heat in the wintertime.  Easy peasy!

~TxH~

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68 thoughts on “Saving Money And Energy With Solar Screens

  1. Mrs Shoes

    It would be awesome if you could post a photo of the inside of the room which is shielded by your screens so that I could get an idea how much the light is diffused.

    Reply
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  3. Shirley Wood

    I’m off to Amazon to check out the solar screens right now! Thanks so much for sharing at the Merry Monday party. You never know what jewel you will find at those linky parties!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      We love our solar screens Shirley – they make a pretty market difference in the sun’s rays and temps in the rooms with the windows covered with solar screens. ~TMR~

      Reply
  4. Heather (Woods of Bell Trees)

    Thank you for this! Memphis has just been brutal so far this year and we could definitely make use of some solar screens! We have west facing windows and holy crud it gets warm in those rooms! I just told hubs about the screens and he’s excited to get to work….well maybe not to get to work but he’s definitely excited to save some green and stay cool!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Heather they really do make a difference in the temps hitting those windows. And we only built them for the heating-up side of the house, there’s really no need to have them on every window. These screens have saved us bundles. Give ’em a try. ~TMR~

      Reply
  5. w d

    It’s terrific that solar screens continue to find favor in the Southwest. I live in the Chicago area. Instead of solar screens, I’ve used solar grates. Even though the summer season here is only 3-4 months, managing solar gain is an economical proposition. The savings are similar between screens and grates but there are differences. The screens are 80+% closed whereas the grates are 80% open. Grates are installed seasonally. I’m glad to see some solar screen owners are able to use their screens seasonally. That allows solar gain in the winter and that’s important in the northern States. Grates and screens have similar mounting options.

    Other differences: grates create an interior condition that is bright with diffused light whereas screens slightly darken the room; grates cause the light to reflect and the infrared portion is largely absorbed outside the window whereas screens principally block most of the light; grates allow virtually unconstrained ventilation; the grates are made of polystyrene or similar plastic and as a result (along with their depth) are quite robust yet light weight; because of the 80% openness, grates are surprisingly unaffected by wind and weather; grates have had nil maintenance over 10+ years. Both screens and grates affect the view. Screens provide a dimmed but recognizable image. There is no real view at night. Grates block the view at wide angles but leave the head-on view largely unchanged. The night view remains.

    My rough calculations show that solar screens are more effective in displacing electrical usage for a/c than a solar panel (photovoltaic-PV). PV will have to drop in price even more to be competitive. For example, PV is said to save 320 kwh/year for each $1,000 of installation cost. Once it gets to 640 kwh/year for each $1,000 spent, it will be comparable to solar screens on a DIY basis.

    The effectiveness of various external “window attachments” is said to be a topic of study at LBNL (Berkley). They should be able to confirm scientifically and quantify the performance of these means for controlling solar gain versus other alternatives. To get those savings, all one needs is a willingness to try something new.

    Reply
  6. Erlene

    What a great product! We have reflective film on our windows, but these would be nice to have if you still want to have the windows open and get some air movement in the house. Thanks for sharing this tip on Merry Monday.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      That film is very helpful too Erlene. We like the screens because we can actually remove them in the winter to get a little solar light & warmth to hit the windows. They snap on & off just as easy as a regular screen. ~TMR~

      Reply
  7. Shawna

    Fantastic information! I am looking it up now. I live in Florida and this could really help our cooling. Thank you for sharing on our Four Seasons Blog Hop.

    Reply
  8. Gentle Joy

    I am wondering… where have I been that I have never heard of this!!? We go around the house each day and in the morning we shut the miniblinds on the east side, and a little later the south window are covered, then by late afternoon, we can open the others and shut the west facing windows…. it works, but this sounds much better!! Especially as we can’t see out of the windows on the side facing the sun as the shades are drawn…. and we LOVE to see outside. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’m with ya, I like to see outside too. I was hopeful that the solar screens would live up to their hype and they really do. But they’re so expensive to have installed and pretty cheap to DIY. Give it a try! ~TMR~

      Reply
  9. Tracy @ Our Simple Life

    What a wonderful tip! We have seven windows in our new sun room that just get beat on in the summer. We don’t have the A/C unit hooked up out there yet, but I have been dreading it because of the heat that comes in those south west windows. I am going to share this with hubby and see what he thinks!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I was pleasantly surprised at their effectiveness Tracy, as well as how easy they were to put together (especially since RancherMan & I did the assembly together) ~TMR~

      Reply
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  11. Jamie @ Love Bakes Good Cakes

    We recently move to Arizona and have considered solar screens! I’ll need to show this to my husband! Thanks so much for linking up to All My Bloggy Friends last week – I hope you’ll join us again tomorrow. I look forward to seeing what you’ve been working on this week! 🙂

    Reply
  12. Jacqueline @ Deeprootsathome.com

    This Is an awesome tip! We have a deep overhang as part of our passive solar pkg, but the south windows still bring in more heat than we’d like. I am so glad that you have shared it at DRAH. I hope lotsof people take advantage of this project and save! I checking it out now!
    Blessings!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Jacqueline, it was dreadfully hot in one of our rooms at another house where we lived with the sun hitting that room’s exterior wall full-on. We didn’t want to test effectiveness on an expensive pre-made custom screen so we figured we didn’t have much to lose buying the materials inexpensively and giving it a go. We were both surprised at the effectiveness! ~TMR~

      Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      🙂 Good to see you Lee. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you decide to give the solar screens a go. In this part of Texas it’s a pretty commonly seen environmentally-aware window amendment, especially in the higher-end homes. But making them yourself truly is very easy and significantly less expensive. ~TMR~

      Reply
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  15. Heidi

    I agree with all the other comments. This IS a great idea and I will be showing it to my husband this weekend. We just moved to the mountains and are experiencing triple digit temps, something we are NOT used to. We have many day-long sun exposed windows and skylights and this would sure help. Thank you for sharing this idea on the Country Homemaker Hop.

    Heidi

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Heidi, give it a try. As easy & inexpensive as it is to make these screens yourself you really don’t have much to lose. I’m sure if you’re like us you’ll be very surprised! ~TMR~

      Reply
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  17. Carol J. Alexander

    Never heard of this. Is it actual screening material that lets air through? Or is it a film? We do not have A/C, so this would be a big plus for us. Thank you for linking to the HomeAcre Hop. I hope to see you back this week: http://everythinghomewithcarol.com/the-self-sufficient-homeacre-hop-5/

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Carol – it’s screening material that you can see through, we made the screens on metal screen frames and instead of the metal screening we used this solar screen to attach to the frame. It can replace the metal screens on your windows and it makes a tremendous difference in the heat that gets through your windows! ~TMR~

      Reply
        1. Texas Homesteader Post author

          Carol, we have an affiliate link in this post so you can read more about this window solar-screen material by clicking that link if you’d like. I’m so excited this post will be featured tomorrow! 🙂 Thanks! ~TMR~

          Reply
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  19. Texas Homesteader Post author

    Gilberto, I’ve found these screens make a dramatic difference in the outside temps entering our home, and I love that it’s not a semi-permanent amendment like awnings or window film. The screens are easy to put on and remove as the weather changes. 🙂 Thanks for your comment. ~TMR~

    Reply
  20. Lisa at Texas Decor

    I couldn’t agree more on solar screens! We have them on every single window and love them. We did ours ourselves too. (well…my hubby did them) We definitely noticed a reduction in our electric bills in the summer time. This Texas heat can be brutal. 🙂 I’m visiting from Tuesdays at Our Home. Enjoy your week!

    Reply
  21. Kris, Neighbor Chick

    I’ve never heard of solar screens and they seem like something we should investigate. One whole side of our house gets the afternoon sun and it really heats those rooms. Thanks so much for the DIY about it, too. Have a lovely day!

    Neighbors About Town Blog

    Reply
  22. sue

    One of neighbors have these! They are amazing!! Thanks for sharen at One Sharendipity Pl. this weekend!

    sue @the2women.com

    Reply
  23. Lisa Lynn

    Good info! Thanks so much for sharing on The Creative HomeAcre Hop!
    Hope to see you again tomorrow at:
    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/06/the-creative-homeacre-hop-20.html

    Reply
  24. Linda @ A La Carte

    What a great way to save money! I think many of us could use those solar screens. Thanks for your thrifty advice on making and using them. Diann and I always appreciate your posts at TTF!

    Linda

    Reply
  25. Krista

    I’m in Ohio so we don’t get quite as hot! I do have some windows these would be useful on though, and I have never heard of them! Going to have to do some measuring!
    Now following you on G+
    Krista@ Far From Normal

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Whew Krista, it’s certainly heating up here in NE Texas. Of course we’re used to dealing with the heat & humidity but there’s no need to make it more uncomfortable than it needs to be, and saving $$ on expensive air conditioning electricity is certainly a bonus! These screens really were very easy to make – measure, cut & put together frame with w/premade corner pieces, stretch & attach screen, DONE! ~TMR~

      Reply
  26. Hannah

    Thanks for sharing your post with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday. We have some HOT windows… we will be looking into this! Hope to see you back next week! http://likemamalikedaughter.blogspot.com/search/label/Eco-Kids%20Tuesday

    Reply
  27. Candy C.

    We have solar screens on a couple of our south-facing windows and it really does make a BIG difference! We had a small one made at ACE Hardware this past spring for the kitchen window to help with the glare as I stand there baking all day. We should look at making some more ourselves for the rest of the windows.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Candy, I wanted solar screens for awhile & couldn’t get over the price. Then we discovered that we could make them and they were so easy to make – who’da thought? We made them on our previous house and then when we moved to the ranch we made them for this house too. ~TMR~

      Reply

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