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Consumers Choice Award 2014 Winner

Thermal Curtains: Are They Effective?

Have you felt the chill of winter air inside your home? Is there a room in your house with more window than wall? Have you looked at your energy bill recently and debated going off the grid instead? Do you have old windows but don’t have the extra cash right now to spare sprucing up your home?

If so, you may have debated putting up some long, thick, thermal curtains (also called insulated curtains) to help keep the heat in. But take a quick scan online or in a retail store and there are plenty of thermal curtain options out there, at vastly different price points. So, in order to help you out, we’ve compiled a few things to consider when buying thermal curtains.

How Do Thermal Curtains Work?

Ever hear of that expression, “the eyes are the windows to the soul”? Well, windows are sort of like the eyes to the outside air… or would it be windows? Well, we may not be the best at metaphors, but we do know homes – and any windows without an effective E rating will spill out heat (check out our blog on Argon Gas to learn more about those types of windows) and let in cold without insulation to prevent it.

As most people know, air is consistently trying to spread itself out as much as it can. But what some people don’t know is that with spreading out, air also transfers energy (or heat) as well. This principle is in effect with your windows too. The cold winter air is constantly trying to absorb the energy from inside, thus cooling the glass of the window and the air surrounding it. Energy-efficient windows work by inserting a layer of a thicker gas like Argon in between the glass panes, to slow down this heat transfer. Curtains work much the same way. But which materials insulate the best?

It’s Curtains For You – But What Kind?

In terms of effectiveness, you’ll want curtains with a few different layers working together:

• Foam layer for insulation
• Vapor barrier
• Decorative external layer
• Reflective film over top that bounces heat back into the room
• Magnets at the bottom to create a better seal to the window

What those layers are made out of though, is mostly consistent. However, heavyweight cotton flannel is the most often used and most cost-effective choice for your insulating layer.

If you felt up to the task, you could also consider making your own thermal curtains, especially if you already have curtains you love that aren’t insulating very well. Just grab some of the cotton flannel mentioned, cut it to size and layer it behind the decorative layer. Iron it out flat and either sew or glue it together. Take a large plastic sheet that has been cut to size and layer it underneath as well to act as a moisture barrier. Than take an additional decorative curtain to use as the back layer – iron it flat once more and then carefully sew the edges together! If you wanted to add the bonus of blocking light to your new curtain project, simply paint the back layer curtain with acrylic paint (3 layers). A dark colour works best. And there you have it: a thermal curtain you made all on your own!

And don’t forget: just like energy-efficient windows, thermal curtains work during the summer to keep your cool air in as well!

Do you have any seasonal solutions for your home that you’d like to share? Be sure to let us know on our Facebook page!