Question

Can you recommend solar window blinds that are not made of PVC?

Asked by Lisa Dow, New York, NY

I am looking for solar blinds to reduce my cooling and heating bills, but all the roller shades I have found are primarily PVC and smell terrible. What do you recommend as an effective and environmentally safe modern window covering?

Answer

Maggie Wood

Answered by Maggie Wood

Jamesport, NY

Maggie Wood Consulting

October 16, 2007

Solar blinds are a smart choice if you have large expanses of glass in your home. They block out UV rays and decrease heat transmittance, keeping your home cooler and reducing glare.

I get this PVC free blinds question a lot from city dwellers who are running out of ideas when it comes to modern, green window coverings, and I'll be the first to admit that it's not easy to find shades that aren't made from PVC.

Luckily, I have two good alternatives for you!

PVC-free synthetic solar screen

One option is a PVC-free synthetic solar screen from a company like Earthshade. Earthshade Contract screens are made from a cotton-polyester blend or acrylic-coated fiberglass, and are available in a wide range of colors.

You may notice that product descriptions for solar shades often refer to an “openness factor.” The openness factor is the amount of light that is allowed through, usually expressed as a percentage.

  • A lower openness factor increases UV blockage, but the outside view will not be as clear.
  • A higher openness factor decreases UV blockage, but allows for a better view. With a high openness factor, additional drapes or curtains are required for privacy.

Earthshade’s solar shades are available in four openness factors that are on the low end of the spectrum, including blackout screens.

Roman shades

If you’re looking to avoid synthetic fibers altogether, I would suggest simple Roman shades.

They are available from Earthshade in cellulosic fibers, sisal, and grass, or from Earth Runnings in hemp linen. You could also have Roman shades custom made with your choice of natural-fiber fabrics.

  • Roman shades can be very modern, and they provide excellent solar screening.
  • It’s important to choose a fabric weight that corresponds to the amount of screening you’re looking for. The lighter the color and the looser the weave, the more light will filter through.
  • Be aware that many natural-fiber fabrics will lose their color when exposed to the sun over time, so I recommend choosing a light color that won’t show fading.
  • Organic cotton and linen fabrics work particularly well as tailored shades.

If you're on a tight budget

If you’re on a tight budget, Ikea carries a few lines of shades that are made without PVC. The Isdans blind is pure cotton, and the Tupplur blackout shade is cotton coated with acrylic.

They're not perfect, but in a pinch, they'll work!

 

For more information:

If you choose to go with natural-fiber shades, read the Ask A Pro tips for avoiding chemically treated textiles.

Tagged In: pvc safety, solar gain, summer energy, window coverings

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