Besides being the right thing to do, going green is now stylish! These days, there are more ways than ever to dress up our energy-efficient windows with earth-saving window treatments that are as easy on the eyes as they are on the environment, and in many cases, easy on the wallet.
No matter the nature of your interior decorating style, Mother Nature has provided a perfect option for you! The following selections are just a few of the most popular eco-friendly window treatments you can use in your mission to go green.
Perhaps the number one sustainable choice for everything wooden, bamboo is a wonderful option for green window treatments of all kinds, including Roman shades, plantation shutters, and roll-up, matchstick and slat blinds. Bamboo is considered especially sustainable because as a member of the grass/reed family, it grows to full maturity in three to five years (at a rate of up to six inches a day!), without the use of harsh chemicals or fertilizers, unlike more traditional hard and softwood options used in furniture, flooring, millwork and window treatments.
Natural Fibers and Organic Fabrics
In addition to all of its more widely-known “woody” qualities, bamboo makes an excellent organic fabric selection for your green window treatments. Fun fact: as well as being 100% natural, bamboo is the snack of choice for the 100% adorable panda bear.
You might also consider other organics like cotton, hemp and soy to drape as window dressing. Finally, for a more substantial option, consider jute or one of its byproducts: burlap. All of these natural fibers are completely biodegradable, so when you are ready to pass them on in their life cycle, you can decompose them in preparation for their new roles in any number of environmentally-friendly capacities.
Another fantastic way to do your part for the environment is by filling your window spaces with materials that otherwise would be filling a landfill. Indeed, the trend of reusability has steadily grown over the last couple of decades, as evident in the plethora of upcycled selections available where your windows are concerned – you can find curtains and blinds constructed out of scrap wood, compressed sawdust, and polyester fiber composed of spun plastic, just to name a few!
If you are more of an environmental do-it-yourselfer, instead of throwing out your favorite blanket, comfy tee-shirt or set of Egyptian cotton sheets when they have outlived their standard usefulness, breathe new life into them by turning them into your own custom curtains.
While your energy-efficient windows play a huge part in reducing energy consumption and loss, go the extra step by covering them with complementary window treatments. After all, when you can keep the heat inside in the winter and outside in the summer, you are already halfway there in your quest to maximize your energy efficiency.
Think about how wearing white and light colors in the summer always keeps you cooler, but how you melt when you wear black. The same concept applies to your windows – a light-colored backing or lining to your treatments serves to reflect the sun’s rays and bounce them back to the environment where they belong. This helps combat the heat in those hot summer months, keeping you cool, calm and collected all season.
Of course, if your intention is to keep the heat inside, consider heavy drapes or multi-layered fabrics when choosing your window adornments. At the same time, using darker colors will help absorb the natural heat from the sun and utilizing tightly-woven fabrics limits the outgoing airflow even more.
Less is More
If you have an amazing view that would be criminal to cover up, don’t! Perhaps one of the coolest (literally!) options out there on the market today is residential window film. By applying this clear film to all of your interior windows, you can drastically reduce the amount of harmful UV rays entering your home.
This means you not only protect your furniture from the sun’s propensity to cause fading and damage, but you also reduce the amount of glare cast on your television, computer, or interior mirrors. Meanwhile, you eliminate harmful “hot spots” caused by direct beams of light and slash energy costs because your system is not working as hard to keep the temperature down.
If you still want the free flow of light to enter your home but you need to add that extra element of privacy, consider a rice paper window film or window film created to give the effect of etched, textured, cut, sandblasted or other decorative glass design.
Finally, there are sustainable window film options that can help you attain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification or tax credits for your environmental efforts. For more details on this and other eco-friendly window film options, you can read here.
Seal the Deal
No matter which green option you select, a classic “best practice” is an extremely simple process: apply a fresh round of caulking to all of your windows and door frames. You would be amazed at how effective a single bead of caulking can be in combating air loss and reducing your overall energy consumption and electric bill.
There are more ways than ever to experience how lessening your detrimental impact on the planet doesn’t mean you have to substantially lighten your wallet! What are some of the ways you’ve been able to save green while going green? Any tips you can offer newcomers to the cause?
Jay Harris is a Home Depot “on the floor” sales associate and a regular contributor to Home Depot’s blog, His interests include providing tips to homeowners on exterior doors and casement windows.
Image credits: hsfournier at flickr cc; The Year of Mud via photopin cc
Nice article! I appreciate the way you told us about the Green Window Treatment, as there is lots of information regarding fabrics, which is very benificial… Thank You so much !