Since the start of the Green Revolution, individuals homeowners have been looking for ways to conserve energy and resources through sustainable home installments and practices. Some people have signed up for recycling or composting services. Others have reduced the number of times per week they water their lawn. The most recent trend, though, is conserving energy by choosing the right window treatments.
Eco-friendly window treatments help minimize the carbon footprint by reducing the amount of energy needed to heat and cool homes’ interiors. Without a strategic window treatment plan, you leave your home’s inside climate vulnerable to outside temperatures. A study by the U.S. Department of Energy found that during cold seasons, 30% of heating energy from the home escapes through windows. During hotter seasons, the same study found that 76% of sunlight that comes through the window turns into heat.
Without window protection, you end up using more energy to heat and cool your home in order to counteract outside temperatures. Eco-friendly blinds and shades, however, help decrease your energy usage, and thus your utility bill, by providing protection and insulation from the elements to naturally keep your home at your desired temperature.
When choosing sustainable window treatments, think about where you live and the type of technology you need for your home. Here are some sustainable strategies to get you started so that you can go green with your blinds and shades.
General Rules of Eco-Friendly Window Treatments
- Cellular shades, such as honeycomb shades are made of several layers of material to increase insulation ability. The extra layers of fabric can reduce unwanted heat loss during the fall and winter and unwanted heat gain during warmer months.
- The more opaque the material of your curtains and shades, the more protection you’ll receive from the elements. Thicker materials are also better at fending off unwanted heat and cold, so choose a thick, non-see-through materials for the most energy efficient curtains.
- Choose shades that are dual sided with a light and dark side for extra insulation and to manipulate natural sunlight seasonally. You can point the light colored backing outside during the summer to reflect sunlight and point the dark layer outside during the winter to absorb sunlight.
- For additional eco-bonus points, choose curtains and shades made from organic materials such as cotton, wool, silk, or burlap. Matchstick blinds made of wicker or bamboo are a great option if you want blinds that both look and feel natural.
- Keep shades and curtains closed during sharp temperature spikes and drops. In the summertime, reduce energy expenditure on air conditioning by keeping shades drawn to protect against hot air and sunlight coming through the window. In the winter, as well, draw them closed to prevent cold air from seeping through and raising your heating bill.
- Floor length blinds and curtains provide the greatest amount of protection. In general, the more coverage, the better. Make sure that there is not too much room left by your window treatment on either side of the window frame. If possible, Velcro curtains where they meet in the middle, as well. By covering all gaps, you can prevent air from seeping through and maximize insulation.
- Pair drapes and shades for ultimate protection. The multiple layers protect against sunlight coming through the window and insulate hot or cold air coming off the window. Pairing two options also grants the most versatility. Bundle up your window during harsh temperatures, or open the curtains during mild seasons.
- Maximize utility conservation with plastic window films and coverings. Films create a barrier against heat and ultraviolet rays without blocking the views. You even buy covering that automatically tint when exposed to sunlight.
- Seal cracks in window frames to prevent any outside air from slipping in. Many people forget to check if their windows and frames are airtight and waste money on heat and air conditioning to combat outside air leaks.
- Another effective way to reduce energy in your home is to decrease electricity usage by taking advantage of natural light. During mild and warmer temperatures, close shades and blinds on windows that receive direct sunlight while opening other shades to provide natural light. During colder seasons, open shades on windows exposed directly to sunlight to warm your house naturally.
Tips for Warm Seasons and Climates
- Blinds are great choice if you live in a warm climate because the slats allow you to control the amount of light that gets in. The technology of blinds also allows you to reflect and diffuse light strategically to minimize unwanted heating.
- When closing blinds, turn the slats upward to maximize protection from heat. This option provides the most insulation by directing any light that does get through to the ceiling, where it can be reflected and diffused around the room. If blinds are pointed downward to a dark floor, on the other hand, the floor will absorb the hot air and heat up the rest of the room.
- Window films work better for warmer weather than for colder weather, as well. They can protect against heat and UV exposure. You can even purchase tinted window films to limit the amount of sun that comes through the window. Look for silver mirror-like films because they are most effective at reflecting light.
- If you choose have shades, invest in a light colored or plastic backing layer to face outside. Lighter colors reflect light, helping to dispel heat and sunlight back outside your house.
Tips for Cool Seasons and Climates
- Blinds are not ideal for colder climates because their many openings makes it easy for heat to escape from your home. If you must have blinds or you have dramatic seasonal changes where you live, pair blinds with curtains for added protection and versatility.
- Invest in shades that are dark on one side and light on the other. During cooler months, face the dark backing outward to absorb the sun’s warmth and raise the temperature in your home naturally.
The right window treatments can make a huge difference in how you heat and cool your home. In the summer, blinds and shades provide protection from outside sunlight and heat that seeps into your home. The result? You don’t overspend on air conditioning. Then, when winter rolls around, your blinds and shades can work double duty by absorbing sunlight naturally and preventing any heat from escaping your house. By keeping the cold air outside and heated air in, you won’t have to crank the heat constantly and drive your utility bill through the roof.
Investing money on energy saving window treatments benefits you as well as the environment. By insulating your home from outside temperatures, you save big money on air conditioning, heating, and electricity bills. And by cutting back on the amount of energy that your home uses, you do your part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why just a few small changes to your window treatments go a long way in saving energy and money in the long run.