Do It Yourself Energy Efficiency Projects: Your Home’s Thermal Envelope (Part 5): Energy Efficient Window Treatments: “It’s Curtains for You!”

By Vernon Trollinger, January 29, 2010, Energy Efficiency, Home Improvement

There are a few things you can do around your home to save money during the remaining winter months and the hot summer. Basically, you need to air seal your home's "thermal envelope"; the sum total of the home's insulation systems including walls, ceilings, foundation, floors, windows, and doors. These work more effectively with good, tight fits that seal-out the weather, moisture, and air. 

By having a tight seal, the less energy you waste or lose by exchanging it too often with the air outside. 

You might believe that work I describe below is beyond your ability. Never fear, these are easy tasks for any average person. Make sure you have a good set of tools. Plus, you might want to look at the Federal Energy Efficiency Tax Credit   and save on your taxes, too. 

In this installment, you probably won't get very dusty or dirty at all. Sorry.

It's Curtains for You!

Curtains not only add style, color, and privacy to a room, they also act as an insulating blanket for one of the most thermally conductive parts of the house: the windows. Curtains are even more effective at sealing off a window when they have thermal backing. Foam is the typical thermal backing because foam permits water vapor to move through the fabric rather than condensing on the cold side toward the window and causing moisture problems — like mold and mildew. An additional benefit to thermal curtains is that they help deaden noise from outside that is normally transmitted into the room by the window glass. In the summer, the curtains also block hot sun.

Thermal curtains can be made even more efficient by adding a valance with a top. Usually, window valances conceal the curtain hardware such as the rods and brackets. However, if the valance has a top cover, warm air that would normally circulate down between the cool glass and the back of the curtain is blocked.  Consequently, less heat is lost.  Valances can be made with plywood and then stained, painted, or covered in fabric. 

Another option is a window quilt. These are blanket-like shades that roll down to cover the window. Some are held tightly in place by magnetic strips attached to both the quilt and the window frame. 

Finally, one last accessory for the double hung window is the Window Worm. This is a fabric tube about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter and is as long as a window is wide. It is stuffed with quilting foam or cloth scraps and laid along where the top and bottom window sashes meet to help keep out drafts. Longer ones weighted with sand can also be made and placed across the foot of doors (in a pinch, however, rolled-up towels work fine, too).  When the weather warms, you will want to wash these.

Visit the Bounce Energy Education Center for more tips on saving energy. 

Stay tuned for next time: Presenting The Doors!
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