Their seems to be a consensus on the most energy-efficient window treatment: cellular blinds. Cellular blinds, also called honeycomb blinds or honeycomb shades, have a unique design. They come in single cell thickness to allow some light through and double cell thickness if you need blackout blinds. The double cell would be great in a bedroom, especially for someone who works nights and sleeps days, but otherwise choose blinds that allow some light in order to reduce the amount of power used to light your home artificially. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and can be found made from various fabrics, too.
Another worry whenever we bring new items into our homes is what effect the product might have on the air quality in our home. How does this apply to window treatments? Well, mainly it has to do with chemical emissions from plastics or other materials used. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are present in many common household materials and the EPA says that the fumes from VOCs can cause indoor air quality to be up to a thousand times worse than outdoor air quality. One non-profit organization is trying to help consumers make informed choices by applying their logo to products that have been tested and deemed acceptable by Greenguard Environmental Institute (GEI). Look for their logo when you shop for new blinds or other window coverings.
Of course, fabric should always be a consideration. Do you want a fabric that will allow more light to filter through? Or do you want a lined fabric that will be better at insulating your home? These are a personal choice, but try to choose fabrics that are made from organic materials. Because organic materials are grown without fertilizer or pesticides, you can reduce water and air pollution by choosing the right fabric for your windows! Try blinds made from recycled paper or bamboo. Bamboo is easy to grow so it doesn't require chemicals and it grows quickly, making it more sustainable than wood.
Last, but not least, reuse or repurpose whatever you can to prevent buying new at all. While these tips will help you make better choices when you need to buy new products, you can often do without. With some simple sewing, you can turn old sheets or blankets into great curtains. Try visiting salvage shops to find vintage wooden shutters or blinds. Check thrift stores, too, for used and vintage curtains and blinds, or anything that could be easily converted to a window treatment, like bedding or long ruffly skirts.
Have more helpful hints? Have you used some creative solutions for window coverings at home? Share your ideas below!