Made of polyester or other thin materials, the screens and shades are not eyesores because many can be rolled up when not in use.
In early June, Mineko Akiba, a 70-year-old woman in Chiba, Japan, had a roll-up shade installed at her house outside a living room window that is 1.7 meters wide and 2 meters high.
As the window faces the southwest, it receives strong sunlight. Last summer, heat remained in the room, even when she closed the curtains and shutters to block out the sunshine.
“I decided to install the shade as it is convenient because I can easily roll it down to block the sun when necessary. I hope it will help us save power,” Akiba said.
The product is “Outer Shade,” which is distributed by building supply manufacturer YKK AP Inc. The shade is made of a polyester fabric that is flexible and can be stored in an aluminum box over the window. The shade allows just enough sunshine through to keep the room illuminated and it is designed so someone inside can see through it.
Akiba installed hooks on both sides of the window so she can roll the shade down in phases. The installation, which took two hours, and materials cost Akiba about 50,000 yen. The shade can easily be cleaned by wiping it or washing it with water.
“Shades installed outside windows are more effective in stopping heat than curtains and blinds inside the house,” said an employee at the shop Mado in Hanamigawa Ward, Chiba, which installed the shade at Akiba’s house. The shade she bought is usually recommended for windows facing west, which are hit by strong sunshine.
YKK AP says the shade reduces the amount of heat entering a room by about 40 percent and prevents the room temperature from rising.
Housing component maker Lixil Corp. sells roll-up window shades named Fure-shade. The 1.8-meter-wide and 1.3-meter-high shade costs 28,140 yen, excluding installation costs.
However, this shade is made for sliding windows of houses and is not suitable for others such as bay windows.
There are similar products for apartment windows. Shade manufacturer Tenpal Co. in Tokyo sells an outdoor roll-up screen Madokaze for 40,800 yen. The 2-meter-wide and 2-meter-high screen can be quickly and easily installed by clamping it to a window sash.
©2012 The Yomiuri Shimbun (Tokyo)
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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