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Interior Design Tricks for Increased Energy Efficiency

Interior design is not only for aesthetics, but also considers the functional elements of a space.

Knowing how to incorporate energy saving strategies in a home is a useful way to mix purpose with design.

Color, an integral part of the decorative process, is one application that can be used for an energy conserving advantage. Painting an area with lighter colors can reflect heat from other objects in the room that gather it, like fireplaces, furniture pieces, ceilings, surrounding walls or other materials conducive to storing heats.

Applying darker colors in a room absorbs some of the heat and can make the space feel warm. Colors with warmer hues like reds, yellows and oranges can be used in rooms that do not get a lot of sunlight.

Flooring and countertops are another area where saving energy can be accomplished with the right materials. Concrete can reflect the temperature and is able to absorb heat and keep it warmer longer. When temperatures are cooler it will release the trapped heat. Also, materials like bricks, rocks and ceramic tiles can all collect and release heat according to the temperature in the room.

This natural process, called thermal mass, allows objects to accumulate heat during the day and redistribute it in the evening. Some materials are better at retaining the heat from sunlight than others. This table from Michigan State University Extension shows the heat level absorption capabilities in percentages from varying materials.


The layout of a room can also determine how efficient it will be. Windows and doors should be positioned where they allow natural light to filter in during the daytime. Window treatments like draperies, panels and some blinds are available lined with an insulating material which helps to maintain a stable indoor temperature at night and during cold weather.

Additionally, lighting fixtures containing energy efficient bulbs should be placed where they will provide appropriate lighting levels for the space. Rooms with dim lighting require the use of lamps or other illumination which uses extra power.

Thinking beyond just the visual outcome, green design concepts can also incorporate energy efficiency as part of the package.

Source: Michigan State University Extension. 2003. Home Maintenance and Repair. Retrieved from: Energy Efficient Interior Design

Image Source: Google Images

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