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Turn window blinds up or down? An industry expert advises!

window blinds turned up and down in a kitchen
HunterDouglas “Reveal” aluminum blinds — I put blinds like this in my kitchen.

When we asked readers toilet paper over or under? reader Steve was agnostic on the issue. The pressing question in his house: How should blinds be closed? “Believe me, this is a very contentious issue in my household,” he said.

I installed 2″ aluminum blinds from Hunter Douglas in my kitchen (love them), so asked the company if they had a bona fide scientific answer. And yes, now everything is illuminated!

Pros and cons of turning blinds up or down

Bobby Dill, General Manager of the Hunter Douglas Horizontal Blinds Division, provided this assessment of the pros and cons of how to angle the slats on horizontal window blinds:

Reasons to turn your window blinds up:

It really is consumer preference, although we know that turning the slats upward (front edge of the blind upward) usually provides more privacy, less light into the room, and minimizes heat transfer into the room…. 

Closed in the inside up direction, blinds may not have as soft an appearance, but there is greater control of daylight entering the room. Sunlight and some radiant energy will be deflected upward and away from the room.  This benefit is especially relevant in places like offices, where there can be substantial energy savings derived from maximizing that amount of natural lighting in the space.

Reasons to turn your blinds down:

With that said, tilting to the front (front edge of the blind down) provides the most aesthetic benefit, but will admit more light through the small gaps where slats overlap because of the angle of sunlight on the window.

 

Really, it comes down to personal preferences and the particular situation.  Horizontal blinds provide benefits and functionality when tilted in any position.  There is no “right” or “wrong ” way go.

Thank you, Mr. Dill, for your guidance. And thank you, Steve, for the question.

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  1. DJ Sparkles says:

    I thought everyone knew this. Yes, you tilt your blinds up when the sun is hitting and you want to keep the room cool. I do it every afternoon to my 2″ wood blinds when the west sun hits the back of my house, just like I did at my last house with my 2″ metal blinds. If you don’t believe me- or the experts- experiment with it! You can tell the difference!

    As far as privacy, though, I beg to differ, at least for upstairs. One night I noticed I could see in my husband’s second floor office when the blinds were turned up, because he hadn’t changed them from the morning sun (he never turns them, or even opens or shuts them). But when I turned them down, I could no longer see in the room.

    This was in the dark with his overhead light on, because lighting makes a difference. I really wish I would have said something right away to my neighbors across the street, who seemingly have blackout fabric blinds, but when it’s dark out and the bathroom lights are on, you can see exactly what they’re doing. I feel like Mrs. Kravitz when I look out my window! 😉

  2. Betsy in Michigan says:

    Just in case anyone is interested, wooden Venetian blinds date back to the 18th century. Obviously their popularity has gone in cycles.

  3. Charlie says:

    Oh yea, “Venetian Blinds”, I’d forgotten about that name. I too like the look of the sun rays coming thru partially open venetian blinds. Makes for some beautiful MCM pictures. That’s what I love about Retro Renovation. It brings back so many great memories.

  4. Midge Brock says:

    When I had “Venetian Blinds” ( that’s what my mother always called them) I always would tilt them upward. Why? Because the shadows cast as the sun was beginning to set gave my rooms a 1940’s “Film Noir” feeling which I loved!!

  5. Charlie says:

    I’ve thought about this for a few years. I live on the Florida coast and get plenty of sun/heat in a house with large windows. I don’t think the direction will make that much difference on your electric bill. My thought is, when the sun/heat hits the blinds, its already in your house. The “heat” will just radiate up to the top of your window, flowing (sorry, couldn’t think of another word) into your room heating your interior. The sun/heat needs to be blocked on the exterior side of the glass, using something such as awnings or Bahama shutters (you can make your own). Personally I like my blinds open to see out. I will close my floor to ceiling curtains (yep in addition to the blinds), when the sun is shining directly into my windows. All this helped immensely with my electric bill. Tint your windows also. With the tint and shutters, you will have greater privacy with very little loss of your view outside.

    1. DJ Sparkles says:

      Awnings are the best! I complained via our newspaper when our small city hired an “expert” (from California*, no less) to weigh in on revitalizing our downtown. She insisted the stores get rid of all the awnings, which they mostly did.

      Well, the week I wrote my article, our Oregon summer fluctuated from several days of 95+ degree sun to non-stop rain, making it, as I called it, awning weather all the time. And now I drive past the stores who used to be easily identifiable with their pretty awnings with their names on front, because they blend in with all the other brick-front stores. Their huge, gorgeous, old-fashioned front display windows are faded from getting full sun, and the stores are hotter and use more air to cool down. When it rains, shoppers now have to lug umbrellas around or get soaked, as they no longer have the awnings to protect them.

      Awnings, when done right, can be a work of art, yet at the same time, one of the best investments a store (or home) could make.

      *You have to imagine me spitting, like Dog River residents when they say ‘Woolerton’ in the hilarious sitcom “Corner Gas”. But we really do welcome Californians to visit or move here, just not hired as “experts” when they don’t understand our climate.

  6. Lori says:

    Personally I leave my blinds open. I want to see outside not feel “trapped” inside my home. I close the blinds in the down position at night & then pull my room darkening shades down over the blinds. ?

  7. Ed Kleiner says:

    For heat efficiency the blinds seal shut better when the convex side faces into the room; this is the cleaner view that you mention. I would expect that the opposite, when the concave side faces into the room, would enhance the circulation of heat into the room as heat rises through the gap where the edges don’t meet as well

  8. Zachary says:

    Greetings! Here are a few thoughts about the blinds orientation issue. Where energy expenditure is key concern, some factors to consider are:
    1) orientation of the window in relation to the sun: at any given time no more than two sides (exterior walls) of a square house (for simplicity of demonstration all sides have equal windows) will be in direct sunlight. Therefore it is logical to conclude that in most houses most of the time it is not the case that the majority of windows’ blinds should be orientated based upon the direct sunlight criteria. In fact at most times the majority of windows are not in direct sunlight given that half of the year is dark anywhere in the world.
    2) the material of the floor that inbound sunlight contacts will determine the degree to which the sunlight affects the ambient temperature of the “conditioned space” (industry term) of the building.
    3) method of conditioning the space (heating/cooling) is a major factor. Ideally air is cooled from above where it may sink to the floor conditioning the entirety of the space enrout and air is heated from below from whence it may rise conditioning all space enrout to the ceiling. Anytime air is moving it must be considered that the blinds are best orientated so that inbound conditioned air which is cooler than existing ambient air will sink in the space and should therefore be allowed to shed off of the blinds to stay in rather than directed out to the window pane which is presumably warmer. So when cooling; inside edges of blinds go down at night and on non-directly lit sides of building (shady sides) at the very least (always in my house).
    Conversely when heating; blinds are best oriented such that the inside edges are up. This allows rising heated air to remain inside rather than be directed out to contact the pane which is presumable cooler. This is certainly the best practice for any space with baseboard heat. Imagine that if the baseboard heat is cranked up below a window with inside edges of the blinds down, then the rising air is wasted when directed to the cold pane. Hope this helps.

  9. Dan Wilson says:

    Oh… And thank you for taking the time to validate this. One thing to also highly consider is the appearance from the outside of the home. Tilting the blinds facing upwards (outside edge facing down) arguably looks cleaner from the outside of the home. Thanks again for this contribution.

  10. Dan Wilson says:

    There is no “concave” to the slats. If there is, then there is an issue with the individual slats. Perhaps you used the wrong adjective? I like that you use the outside edge as the reference point.

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