Solar Heat Gain Explained: What it is and Why it Matters

Solar Heat Gain Explained: What it is and Why it Matters

Have you ever wondered why some parts of your home seem to become unbearably hot during the summer months while other rooms are more comfortable? This is caused by a phenomenon known as solar heat gain, but what is solar heat gain? Is there a way to combat it?

Solar heat gain can be useful during the winter since it helps keep parts of your home warm, but for those who live in areas that see long, hot summers, it can cause a lot of irritation.

What is Solar Heat Gain?

Solar heat gain (SHG) describes the way radiation from the sun is turned into heat. When the sun’s rays hit an object, such as a window, some of the sun’s energy is absorbed, warming that object, and allowed to pass through.

Window manufacturers use Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) to describe how much energy passes through a window and how much is absorbed. This is rated on a scale from zero to one. A low SHGC means very little energy is transmitted, while a number closer to one means there is more solar heat gain.

Windows that allow a lot of solar heat gain are useful if you live in an area with cold winters and want to take advantage of the free heat from the sun. However, these types of windows are undesirable if you’re worried about a room becoming too hot in the summer months.

How to Reduce Solar Heat Gain

If you’re having issues with your room being too hot in the summer months, there are a few things you can do to reduce solar heat gain:

  • Choose blinds or shades that block direct sunlight.
  • Consider using deciduous trees for extra shade in the summer without sacrificing light in the winter.
  • Upgrade to double glazing if your current windows are single pane.

New window treatments are the simplest and most affordable way to reduce solar heat gain in your home. Slatted blinds that can be adjusted to let some light through while offering protection from direct sunlight represent a good compromise for many homeowners, and you can still take advantage of the sun during the cooler months.

For those who have a large yard, using bushes or deciduous trees to provide shade could be an option. This not only helps reduce solar heat gain but also helps increase privacy.

Energy Efficient Windows for a More Comfortable Home

Older, single-paned windows can be woefully inefficient in terms of thermal insulation, noise insulation, and solar heat gain. If you have older windows or your existing windows are damaged, they may be letting you down when it comes to SHG.

ENERGY STAR provides recommendations for homeowners in different parts of the United States, helping them choose the best window panes for their area. Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia are considered in the North Central Zone, and ENERGY STAR recommends windows with an SHGC of 0.40 or lower for properties in that area.

If you’re considering renovating your property and are looking for energy-efficient windows to keep you comfortable all year round, whether that’s picture windows or a more classical bay window style, contact Thompson Creek today.