Business Articles - Specialty and Trade

Choosing Green Interior and Exterior Window Treatments

A lot of emphasis is placed on energy-efficient windows these days, so much so that many homeowners overlook the simple and effective green advantages of installing quality interior and exterior window treatments. When it comes to home energy efficiency and reducing energy bills, however, how you choose to cover your home's windows can make a big difference. In this guide, we'll give you some tips on what you can to do to improve home energy efficiency with well-chosen interior and exterior window treatments.

Going Green with David Johnston
ServiceMagic understands that it can be tough for homeowners to wade through all the "green" remodeling information out there, which is why we've teamed up with green remodeling expert David Johnston to provide you with the best, most accurate, green remodeling advice in the business. Johnston is the founder of the green consulting firm What's Working, Inc., the author of multiple books on green remodeling (including the Nautilus Award winner Green Remodeling: Changing the World One Room at a Time), and he happens to know a thing or two about going green with windows. That said, here's a guide to greening your windows without replacing them, drawn from the experience, wisdom, and writings of Mr. Johnston himself.

The Cost of Going Green with Window Treatments
We'll get to specifics in a minute, but for starters let's address what's on most homeowners minds when the subject of green remodeling comes up: cost. With window treatments, the answer to that question is largely a matter of perspective. If you were planning on a cheap set of venetian blinds from the local department store, you're probably going to pay a little more to go green than you initially budgeted for. If you were going to install quality window treatments in the first place, however, then you're unlikely to spend much more by going green than if you go a more conventional route.

Cost vs. Value and Going Green with Window Treatments
Of course, dollar and cents aren't always the best way to assess the value of going green, and window treatments are no exception. While the right window treatments will keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, reducing your energy costs year round, it's just as important to remember that investing in green window coverings is also an investment in a better, more sustainable world for generations to come. As Johnston is fond of pointing out, the true value of green remodeling is almost impossible to put a dollar figure on.

David Johnston's Window Treatment Tips for a More Energy-Efficient Home
So, just what can you do to start saving money and the environment when it comes to upgrading the window treatments in your home? Here's a list of ideas from Johnston to help get your gears turning, and turn your window treatments as green as possible in the process.

  • Install Exterior Blinds—Sunlight that gets through the window glass is going to heat up your home to some degree, even if you've installed heavy interior blinds, shades, or drapes. When it comes to keeping your home cool, exterior blinds are the best way to keep solar heat out during the dog days of summer.
  • Install Window Awnings or Overhangs—Window awnings and overhangs are another effective way to shade your windows and prevent heat gain during spring, summer, and fall. Awnings and overhangs are most effective when installed one to two feet above the window, and within thirty degrees of due south.
  • Install Light Colored Interior Blinds, Drapes, and Shades—Lighter colors reflect sunlight and heat away from your home instead of absorbing it and releasing it into your living spaces.
  • Install Louvered Shutters or Adjustable Blinds—Louvered shutters and adjustable blinds provide you with the most control when it comes to letting in maximum light and preventing unwanted heat gain.
  • Install Tight Fitting, Insulated Shades to Reduce Heating Costs—Window treatments aren't just beneficial during the summer. By installing tight fitting, insulated shades, you can prevent heat loss through windows in the winter, as well.
  • Shade Windows with Landscaping—Trees and shrubs aren't exactly window treatments, but by planting deciduous trees and bushes so that they naturally shade east and west facing windows, you can enjoy natural shade during the summer and natural heating power from the sun during winter months, after the leaves have dropped.

David Johnston's Suggestions for Smart Window Treatment Operation
Installing the right window treatments is important if your goal is going green, but so is knowing how to use them. Here are a few additional suggestions from Johnston on how to use your window treatments to get maximum results.

  • In winter, don't shade south facing windows between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • In summer, shade south and west facing windows during the day.
  • Adjust louvers or blinds on east and west facing windows throughout the day, in accordance with the position of the sun; direct sunlight is bad, indirect is good.
  • Find a good balance between shading and natural light. Remember, artificial lighting costs money, too. Reducing air conditioning costs by turning your home into a cave will be offset somewhat if it means you have to leave lights on around the clock.

Which Shade of Green is Right for You?
While thinking green when it comes to window treatments is a smart choice for your pocketbook, your home, and the environment, it's not unusual for homeowners to feel a little overwhelmed when presented with the full scope of green remodeling options. If you're feeling unsure about how green you're willing to go with your window treatments, there's no need to worry. Going green is not an all-or-nothing proposition, and any step you take in a green direction is a smart one, whether you install light colored blinds or go all out with window awnings, insulated interior shades, and even a new tree or two.

If you do think green is the right choice for your new window treatments, talk with your contractor or interior designer about adopting a green remodeling philosophy, find a contractor who specializes in green building and remodeling, or seek out the services of a green consulting firm so that you can be sure your new window treatments are as green as they come.

David Johnston
We are proud to partner with David Johnston, internationally recognized green building expert, to provide our homeowners and service professionals with the information necessary to "green" their projects.
• To learn more about David Johnston, click here.
• To learn more about Green Certification training, click here.

Join our Network

Connect with customers looking to do your most profitable projects in the areas you like to work.