About 40 percent of the energy used in your home goes toward heating and cooling, and as much as 30 percent of this is lost through windows and doorways. That means tackling your windows is one of the biggest steps you can take toward going green. There are a number of options to consider, including awnings, drapes, blinds, shades, and reflective films. Here are the most environmentally friendly products to cover your windows and reduce power consumption.
We often associate using wood with practices that aren’t good for the environment, such as paper printing. However, some woods are very sustainable, such as bamboo, which matures in less than five years. Woods that grow quickly without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers are an environmentally friendly way to treat windows. Look for wood blinds crafted from bamboo, pine or another quick-growing option. These are available in many designs, such as plantation shutters, slat blinds, and roll up blinds.
Natural Fiber Shades & Drapes
Shades and drapery made from natural fibers, such as cotton, burlap, hemp, and soy, are biodegradable. Making these shades is friendlier to the environment, because fewer chemicals are used in the process. Additionally, when you’re ready to toss the old drapes and get new ones, these quickly biodegrade and don’t sit in landfills for years. Natural fibers aren’t filled with chemicals, so as they biodegrade, they’re not seeping toxins into the groundwater or soil.
Upcycled Awnings and Drapes
Many manufacturers are offering products made of materials that would otherwise be discarded as waste, such as scrap pieces of wood, compressed sawdust, and spun plastic turned into polyester fabrics. Look for upcycled or recycled drape products or awnings when shopping for window treatments. Awnings block sunlight before it reaches the outside of the window, making it cheaper to cool your home all summer. Thick drapes block sun in warm weather, and seal in heat during the colder months — a two punch effort toward keeping your home comfortable without using more electricity.
DIY Window Coverings
Old bedding, sheets, and other items you normally discard after they’ve served their purpose make excellent drapes. There are tons of drapery patterns available for free on Pinterest or on sewing websites. Some don’t even require sewing, you simply tie the old sheets or blankets up with straps. You can also craft your own awnings out of scrap materials left over from your last renovation project. Get creative! Almost everything we throw away can be reused in another capacity.
During the summer, keep window covers closed all day to block the heat, and open them at night for a refreshing breeze without using the air conditioner In winter, leave window coverings open all day to make use of the warming sunshine, and close them up tight at night to block the evening chill. This maximizes natural sources of heat, so you can lower your power bill and know you’re doing your part to reduce energy consumption. It’s the way to be green!