Going Green is all about making small changes in our lifestyle that will help us live in a more eco-friendly way. By becoming more aware of our environment, we could change our lifestyles, reduce pollution and the waste we generate. Living a green lifestyle can begin in a simple way. Recycling the things we use, reducing our reliance on oil-based energy sources or purchasing only organic, chemical-free products to help to save the world through green living.
GREEN WINDOW TREATMENTS
Green Window Treatments just means using fabrics and wood that are not a threatened source for manufacturing them. They are made of organic materials like bamboo, grasses, jute and reeds in a broad range of natural colors and textures. Rice, hemp and cork too continue to grow in popularity as people around the world have become aware of the earth’s condition. Window treatments made from natural materials like cotton, silk, linen or wood are green because they can be recycled. Wool is a natural flame retardant.
Bamboo is a popular choice because the plants quick growing ability makes it easy to replenish it without destroying its natural habitat. It is durable too.
Wood is another renewable resource found in the window covering industry. Wood is growing every day, and there is more growing than what is harvested. Solid wood manufacture processes for timber and plywood consumes only 4% of all the energy consumed in the production of primary raw materials. This great energy efficiency in the production of wood means less CO2 emission into the atmosphere. Wood is renewable, recyclable and biodegradable. When properly sourced wood isn’t just a handsome window treatment, it is an excellent alternative to other material.
Wood blinds made from the North American Basswood in the U.S are an excellent choice. These trees are grown in sustainable forests where more trees are planted than harvested. A two-for-one planting for harvest ratio is the norm in a sustainable forest.
HOW DO WE KNOW IF A WINDOW TREATMENT IS ECO-FRIENDLY
Going Green with Window treatments does not only mean using products that are eco-friendly. Besides adding beauty to our windows, window dressings save energy resources, control energy flow and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To truly Go Green with window treatments we should be knowledgeable about the materials and energy used to make them in addition to the energy they save. There are several characteristics that contribute to its status as a green product.
Energy efficiency is the most common quality in a window coverings that has popularized it as being green. The majority of heat gain or heat loss takes place through the windows in our home. Although all window coverings provide insulation in our homes to a certain extent, some window treatments like the Cellular shades are made primarily to increase energy efficiency. They can reduce heat loss or heat gain by 50%. The sealed space between the window and its shade makes it very difficult for heat to escape through the window. This keeps the insides cool in summer and warm in winter, reducing the use of cooling or heating systems and helping us to conserve electrical energy in an eco-friendly way.
A product’s R-value is a measurement of its ability to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the more the insulation a product provides. A low-efficiency double glazed window can have an R-value of 3.5. These windows would allow seven times more energy to escape /sq.ft to the exterior. A right window treatment can have a very positive impact. A fully recessed honeycomb opaque shade adds on average, 3.56 to its R-value. It doubles its efficiency and reduces heat loss by 50%.
GREEN GUARD AIR QUALITY CERTIFICATE
Window dressings products must meet stringent chemical emission requirements. Doing so ensures the VOC’s are kept to an absolute minimum thus increasing the indoor air quality in our homes.
SUGGESTIONS MADE BY THE U.S DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
- The U.S Department of Energy suggests that window treatments can be more energy efficient in the following ways –
- Window awnings reduce solar heat gain by 65% on South facing windows and 77% on west-facing windows. Light colored awnings will help reflect light away from our homes while dark colored ones will absorb sunlight and make our homes warmer.
- Window blinds whether horizontal or vertical are more efficient at reducing heat gain or heat loss.
- Window shades when properly installed are the simplest and most efficient for saving energy.
- Dual shades have greater efficiency if they are white on one side and have a heat absorbing dark color on the other side.
- Keep the reflecting side always facing the warmer side of the window.
- The efficiency of a drapery depends a lot on the color and type of fabric. The use of medium colors with a plastic backing reduces heat gain by 33%.
- Highly Refractive window films also fight solar gain effectively from the exterior of the house.
- Window overhangs shade South facing windows from summer heat and allow sunlight and warmth in during winter.
MONEY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
There are many ways of Going Green with window treatments, to cut down on the use of electricity on our heating and cooling systems and attempting to harness more of the natural sunlight to light up our homes during the day.
Exterior Solar Shades deflect the sun’s rays and heat before it reaches the windows and enters our homes.
Window awnings are most effective when installed one or two feet above the window and within 30 degrees of due south. They prevent heat gain in summer and facilitate heat gain through windows in winter depending on the sun’s position in the sky.
Light colored window coverings reflect the Sun’s heat back to the outside and reduce heat gain in summer. Dark colors absorb the Sun’s heat and help in heat gain in the winter months.
Louvered shutters provide more control letting in maximum light or preventing unwanted heat gain.
Tight fitting shades are good insulators preventing heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter.
SPRING WINDOW FASHIONS –WORKING TOWARDS A GREENER FUTURE
In their efforts for sustainability, 43 million pounds of industrial waste is recycled and diverted from landfills. 90 million gallons of water are saved due to the installation of a closed loop water cooling system for plastic manufacture. 4,500 tons of sawdust are recycled. 99% of it is transformed into energy to fire kilns and heat the factory or is converted into wood stove pellets, resulting in a 71% reduction in airborne emissions. Exhaust air scrubbers have been added to reduce VOC’s by 52%. A minimum of 44% of the post-consumer recycled material is included in the packaging of soft window treatments. 100% of packaging material is recycled.
We do not have to go to the extremes and sacrifice our comfort to GO GREEN. Any step taken in the GREEN direction is a wise one.