New Year’s Resolution: Green Window Treatment Design

We all make New Year’s resolutions – lose weight, get a new job, exercise more, but how about becoming more environmentally responsible? There are many ways to do so in interior design, especially through energy efficiency.

I learned a long time ago that my design calling is very much about creating haven in the home. I create the lifestyle people crave by showing them how to realize their interior design hopes and dreams. So why do I also worry about energy efficiently in a space – why green window treatment design, too?

Probably because underneath my creative right brain dwells a prudent and conscientious human being. And hey, I pay electric bills, too.

Not “into green” just yet? You may be surprised to learn that up to 50 percent of your home’s energy is lost through your windows. Windows can allow 7-10 times more energy to pass through them than insulated walls. Weak in in the wallet yet?

Transfer of heat. Heat loss. Heat gain. Solar energy build up. These are among the chief concerns. Remember that light itself bears energy. Now add the fact that glass is the great conductor. That means that when glass is not losing heat in the cold months, it gets hot during those brutally hot days. Glass is actually a great conductor of heat. But the battle is not over.

There’s also solar energy coming into a room. If you’ve ever gotten into a brutally hot car on a summer’s day, then you, too have experienced the build up of solar energy. Your interiors can suffer the same effects.

And let us not forget that energy also comes into a room through light, which is among the reasons we want to filter it. Also, if light is not filtered properly, aside from heat gain in our interiors, we also get glare (computer or TV screens or general eye strain).

So I take window treatment design pretty seriously. It’s not just a pretty art, it’s a practical one, too. To design with a green eye in window design, I consider the following.

Blackout Shades
  • Draperies canĀ  be lined and interlined with blackout lining to control light and reduce heat loss. Layering at the window is also a savvy way to go. For example, there are double honeycomb shades with blackout lining to block light and solar energy; the honeycomb cells themselves create air pockets which trap air, and in effect, act as insulation at the glass. I like to use bottom up and top down versions if clients have double hung windows, allowing them to have privacy below, but airflow and light above.
Plantation Shades
  • Plantation shutters are fantastic in problem spaces as well. They throw a lot of protection across the glass, provide excellent privacy and also allow fine light control. Adjusting the louvers toward the ceiling fills the room with a soft diffused light if glare is a real issue as well. It’s no wonder that shutters remain the largest growing segment of the window treatment market. They are classic, timeless and provide great architectural bang for the buck.
Wood Blinds
  • If shutters are too heavy for a project, I’ll also consider specifying wood blinds. Like shutters, wood blinds help with insulating. And now they are available on cordless lift systems, making them far less cumbersome than they were years ago.

Window treatments are more than important eye candy in room design. They can truly help put very real energy dollars in your pocket and help to minimize the carbon footprint you leave behind. Work with a savvy designer and you can have great style AND green window design. Yes, green window treatment is the way of the day.

All interior design by Interiors by Donna Hoffman. All photos by David Van Scott.