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Chill Out for Less: Cheap Ways to Block Heat from Windows

Does it feel like you live in a sauna because your house is too hot in summer? It may be because sunlight coming through your windows heats up the room through radiant energy. Objects inside the room – like your walls, floor, and furniture – absorb this heat energy and quickly warms up the space. 

A cost-effective solution to block heat from windows is a cheap way to a cool and comfortable home. Not only does it reduce heat inside your home, but it can also save you money on energy bills.

There are many inexpensive ways to prevent heat from entering your home through windows. Many of them can be done with stuff you already have at home. Blackout blinds, aluminum foil, and heat-reducing window film are just a few options to consider to block the heat. 

Trees and trellises placed outside your home can reflect heat away from your windows and block sunlight heat from windows. But that can get expensive. Here are some inexpensive, easy ways to keep the summer heat and light from entering your home through your windows.

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Window Coverings to Block Sunlight Heat from Windows

Window coverings are a quick and easy solution to cover your windows and keep the heat out. There are many types of window coverings available, but the most common ones are blinds, shades, and curtains that can reduce heat gain.

Blinds and Shades

Blinds and shades are great options for blocking heat from windows. They come in various price points and can be adjusted to control the amount of light and heat that enters your room. White blinds and shades reflect rays and heat best, so light colors are a better choice to reduce heat transfer. 

One of the most popular and effective types of shade is the cellular shade, also known as a honeycomb shade. These shades have a unique design that creates pockets of air to insulate your windows and keep your room cool. They are particularly effective at blocking heat around your windows or sliding doors. They can be a little more expensive but are your best bet if you also want to save on energy costs.

The most cost-effective window blinds I have found to block out the summer sun and heat are these pleated paper shades. They are easy to customize and install (with an adhesive strip). They open and close with clips, and last longer than you think. Our old fabric blinds ripped, so we just stuck them to the existing blind roller to make it easier to open and close them. We have found them very effective to block out the summer sunlight in our west-facing windows. They really work to keep the sun’s heat from entering the room.

Image of tan paper blinds to block heat from windows
Our tan-colored paper blinds used to block heat from windows
Image of grey lined curtains used in our spare room to block heat from windows
Our west-facing spare room curtains that block heat from windows

Curtains and Drapes

Curtains and drapes are also great options for blocking heat from windows. They come in a variety of materials, can have lower price points, and can be easily installed on a curtain rod.

Thick curtains or drapes made of heat-blocking materials like blackout fabric or thermal curtains can help keep your room cool by blocking out sunlight and heat. They can also add a decorative touch to your room, making it feel more cozy and inviting. They are also useful if you want to block natural light that keeps you awake.

When choosing curtains or drapes, make sure to measure your windows carefully before purchasing to ensure a perfect fit. For best results, you can also consider layering curtains or drapes with blinds or shades for added insulation and heat-blocking power.

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Window Film to Keep the Heat out of Your Home

Another budget-friendly way to minimize light and heat from your windows is window film.  Window film keeps the sun’s heat out of your house by absorbing and/or dispersing solar energy and reducing heat gain.  It also helps protect furniture, flooring, and other interior elements from the damaging effects of UV rays by blocking a portion of the sun’s harmful radiation.

There are two main types of window films that can help keep heat out of your window. Reflective window film creates a mirrored appearance and reflects a significant amount of sunlight, while non-reflective window film absorbs and disperses solar energy without creating a reflective surface, allowing for a more natural and unobstructed view.

In general, applying window film is a relatively simple process. Ensure that the window surface is clean and measure the dimensions of the window. Cut the film to your measurements, leaving a small margin around the edges. Spray a soapy water solution onto the window surface. Carefully place the film onto the window, smoothing out any air bubbles or wrinkles using a squeegee or a credit card. Trim off any excess film, and make sure the edges are firmly secured. 

Non-Reflective Window Film

Non-reflective window film blocks a significant amount of solar heat without creating a highly reflective surface on windows. This allows natural light to pass through while reducing heat gain, making it an ideal choice for maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature and reducing cooling costs during hot seasons. 

While non-reflective film significantly reduces heat gain and glare, it may not be as effective in blocking sunlight as reflective options. 

Reflective Window Film

Reflective window film is another type of window film that can help to block sunlight and heat from entering a room. This type of film is designed to reflect sunlight and reduce the amount of heat that enters your home. It can also help to reduce glare and protect your furniture from fading.

Reflective window film can also provide privacy, as it makes the outside of your windows reflect light like a mirror. However, people can see inside at night when it is lighter inside and darker outside unless you have street lights that are brighter than the inside of your home.

Keep in mind that reflective window film can be more expensive than non-reflective film, but it can also be more effective at blocking heat. Additionally, some types of reflective window film can make it difficult to see out of your windows, so you’ll want to choose a film that works for your needs.

Pin text reads "Cheap ways to block sunlight from windows" Background image #1 is paper blinds to block the afternoon sun; image #2 is line curtains to block light and heat; image #3 is a man installing window film to block heat from windows; image #4 is shade sails hanging to block light and heat; image #5 is a shade umbrella as a house window sun blocker; image #6 is bubblewrap to insulate windows

External Shading

External shading can block direct sunlight and heat, keeping your home cool and comfortable. While external shading is an effective way to block heat from your windows, most permanent options can be pricey. Three types of external shading that are more affordable for the budget-conscious consumer are canopy tents, gazebos, and shade sails. Keep in mind that the ability to use these external shading ideas to block sunlight coming into your windows can be limited and depend on the layout of your home and outdoor setup.

Canopy Umbrella

Canopy umbrellas are one choice for shading windows, especially if you like to entertain right outside where the sun hits the window. They are easy to assemble and use, and can be placed where needed. They come in a variety of styles and materials that can match your preferred home aesthetic. 


Like a canopy tent, a gazebo can be used strategically to block sunlight from entering windows by creating shade in specific areas outside your window. The size and design of the gazebo will determine the amount of shade it can provide. Choose a gazebo with a solid roof or a canopy made of a sun-blocking material to enhance its shading capabilities.

Shade Sails

Shade sails are an affordable option to shade your windows and block the sun. They are typically made of high-quality, UV-resistant fabric and provide more flexibility in installation options than canopy tents or gazebos. However, sturdy anchoring points, such as poles or existing structures are required to handle the tension and weight of the shade sail. They are a versatile solution to block sunlight in windows while adding aesthetic appeal to outdoor spaces.

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DIY Solutions

If you’re looking for cheap ways to block heat from your windows, DIY solutions are also a great option. Not only are they cost-effective, but they also allow you to customize your window treatments to fit your personal style and needs. Here are two DIY solutions to consider:

Bubble Wrap Window Insulation

Bubble wrap is a surprisingly effective way to insulate your windows and block heat. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Cut a piece of bubble wrap to fit your window.
  2. Spray a thin layer of water onto the window.
  3. Press the bubble wrap onto the window, with the bubbles facing the glass.
  4. Smooth out the bubble wrap, making sure there are no air pockets.
  5. Trim any excess bubble wrap around the edges of the window.

The bubble wrap will create an insulating layer of air between the window and your room, helping to reduce solar heat gain in the summer. Plus, it’s easy to remove and reuse when you no longer need it.

Homemade Window Shades

Another DIY solution is to make your own DIY window shade. This is a great option if you want something that’s easy to put in and take out, but don’t want to spend a lot of money on custom window treatments. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Measure your window frame and cut a piece of cardboard to fit.
  2. Cover the cardboard with aluminum foil and secure it with tape.
  3. Insert your DIY window shade into the window opening.
  4. Remove and store your aluminum window shade when not needed.

This homemade aluminum window shade will reflect heat away from the window, preventing the transfer of radiant heat into the space.

These cheap ways to block heat from windows can be a great way to block heat from your windows without breaking the bank. You’ll beat the heat and be able to enjoy a cooler, more comfortable home all summer long.

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