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When sun screening on an awning fizzles

Q. Four years ago we had some sun-screen material installed on our 43 awning-type windows. It was guaranteed for five years, but now more than 10 of the panels have lost their reflective capability. So far we've been unable to get any satisfaction from the company. I would like to know if the panels have indeed lost their insulating value. If wo, would it be worthwhile to pay for their replacement? If more of them lose their reflectability, would you advise that we have them all removed, or is it a job an amateur can do? What do you consider the best insulating measures to take besides insulated draperies? How much insulation value do Venetian blinds have? A reader St. Petersburg, Fla.

A. If you've held on to the written five-year guarantee, I'd send a certified letter, return receipt requested, to the company's president by name. State your case and ask for satisfaction under the terms of the guarantee. Give the company 15 days to reply.

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If no satisfaction is received, ask for help from the state contractors' licensing board, if Florida has one, or go to the Better Business Bureau or a consumer agency. You can also go to the state's attorney general or write to Esther Peterson, the President's adviser on consumer affairs.

I would hope you have kept the original contract and have complied with the conditions under the guarantee. Failing to achieve satisfaction from any of the above steps, and if the economics warrant, hire an attorney for advice or action , or both.

At this distance I cannot answer your specific questions as to on-the-spot procedures. A knowledgeable field inspection by someone acquainted with the specific product is required for a practical answer.

Venetian blinds are more or less effective insulators, depending on the material used, and especially on their location, whether inside or out.

Aside from interior draperies, other insulating measures for the South are shutters, thermal double-paned windows, single-pane thermal glass, wide roof overhangs, strategically located trees and shrubs, and window weatherstripping.

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