How Insulated Curtains Can Help You Save Energy

Wednesday January 11, 2012
Posted at 13:46

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Insulated curtains are more than just the generic, utilitarian draperies you may have seen in hotels and motels. They’re actually sophisticated energy-efficiency devices that can help you save money on monthly utility bills while improving the comfort and beauty of rooms in which they’re installed. Here’s some useful information about insulated curtains and how they work.

What are Insulated Curtains?

You can think of most insulated curtains as energy efficiency systems composed of four separate layers that help prevent heat transfer, block light and dampen noise:

  • A core layer of high-density foam that insulates your windows from exchanges of heat and sound
  • A vapor barrier to block the foam’s absorption of moisture
  • A layer of reflective film that deflects heat back into the room
  • An outer layer of decorative fabric

There are all kinds of insulated curtains, including Roman shades, hobbled shades, side-draw shades and classic curtains. They can be integrated into draperies, valances, shutters and other systems. And since the outermost layer of decorative fabric can be of any style and type, you can customize the look and feel of insulated curtains for any room in your house.

How Do Insulated Curtains Help Save Energy?

Your home’s windows, in a way, are like membranes. They let sunlight inside and odors outside, which is good. But they also let heated and cooled air outside and allow heat gain and heat loss to affect inside air temperatures, which is almost always bad.

Insulated curtains help protect your home from the four major types of heat loss (conduction, infiltration, convection and radiation) that occur through and around your windows. In other words, insulated curtains help prevent heat from entering or leaving your home.

In the winter, this means insulated curtains will help heated inside air from being cooled or escaping outside. When summer comes, just the opposite happens: cooled inside air will gain some protection against being heated or escaping outside. Additionally, insulated curtains also help dampen outside noise and can be made to almost completely prevent light from entering your room, which can increase your comfort, especially while sleeping at night.

Installing insulated curtains will allow you to set your furnace back during cold winter months and set your air conditioner back during warm summer months. As an extra benefit during the winter, you can leave your insulated curtains open during the day so that sunlight warms your room and then close your curtains when the sun goes down to keep the warm air inside. When summer comes around, you can reverse the process to keep cool air inside.

Why Should I Choose Insulated Curtains Instead of Energy-Efficient Windows?

Energy-efficient windows can do a very good job of preventing heat transfer and saving energy. However, while energy-efficient windows can be costly, insulated curtains are relatively inexpensive, which makes them ideal for those on a budget. They’re also practical and stylish and can make a room in your home more efficient while adding to its beauty.

Perhaps most importantly, insulated curtains of sufficient quality can produce an R-rating that is similar to or better than energy-efficient dual-pane windows, even when hung over single-pane, aluminum frame windows. R-ratings are used by the federal government to indicate energy efficiency..

What Do I Have to Do to Maintain and Clean Insulated Curtains?

Insulated curtains require a little more effort to maintain and clean than regular curtains:

  • To maintain insulated curtains — Occasionally open them to prevent moisture that gets past the vapor barrier from building up and allowing mildew to grow, an especially important task for those living in humid climates or climates that get heavy winter precipitation.
  • To clean insulated curtains — While hanging, spray the curtains with a spray-on upholstery cleaner and then vacuum.
  • Insulated curtains can be dry cleaned if necessary. Just make sure the dry cleaning process is non-immersive.

Do you have insulated curtains installed in your home? How are they working for you?

Sources

Creative Home Decorating Ideas, “Insulated Curtains Save Energy.”

How Stuff Works, “How Insulated Curtains Work.”

Nothing But Windows, “Insulated Curtains.”

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