"Frugal" is a polite term for "cheap," but when it comes to giving cash to the utility company, most people agree that cheap is a good thing. Window coverings using sheers and thin drapes do nothing to keep your high-priced heat inside the house. And as your parents undoubtedly reminded you as a child, heating the outside is expensive. Insulated drapes offer one way to cut down on home utility costs.
Home Heating Costs
Unless you have the ear of oil producers, natural gas companies and the electric power industry, there's little you can do personally about the prices of crude oil, gas or electricity used to heat your home. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates couples use 6 percent of energy on computers and electronics and a whopping 45 percent on home space heating. Cooking takes 4 percent and lighting another 6 percent of total energy use. The biggest savings happen by cutting the percentage used for space heating. [Fact checking: #5 -- pie chart]
Old-school insulated drapes fuse a thick backing to the fabric front to keep in heat. But modern insulation raises the home fashion bar. Innovations in the fabric industry include thermal and reflective fabrics that don't have a thick backing. The new fabrics interweave the insulation with fabric fibers instead of layering the back of the fabric. The final product looks less like your grandma's house and more high tech. Natural fibers also offer less expensive options for insulating drapes. These keep the room naturally toastier during cold weather. Cotton, wool and hemp fabrics have natural insulation properties and work well when paired with other fabric draperies, blinds or shades for insulation. [Fact checking: #6, #7 & #8]
If you're into home furnishing and fashions, you'll be happy to know that Insulated draperies need not be ugly. The main insulation feature for most drapes is the layering feature. But drapes made from modern insulated fabrics feature classic loose weaves and awning-type fashions using smooth fabric resembling metal. The thin width of the fabric also means you can tuck it between other fabrics or feature the material as the only window covering when used directly next to the window. [Fact checking: #3 - under "Cover Drafty Windows" & #6, #7]
Drapes used during the summer should reflect sunshine, while winter curtains should attract sun to draw in extra heat. This will give you the most bang for your heating dollar. At night, when the radiant heat no longer helps your house warm, drapes should be closed up tight to help keep heat inside. Layering window drapes with a fabric barrier closest to the window, another thin drapery hung in the middle, and an outer drape hung closest to the interior, keeps things warm and gives you decorating license for a multitude of combinations of drapery swags and fabric features.
- Good Housekeeping: Cut Your Heating Costs and Save Money This Winter
- University of Nebraska: Improving Energy Performance of Windows
- U.S. Department of Energy: No-Cost and Low-Cost Tips to Save Energy This Winter
- LG&E and KU: How Energy Efficient Are You?
- U.S. Department of Energy: Tips -- Your Home's Energy Use
- Innovative Insulation, Inc.: Fabric Insulation -- Temptrol Heat Reflecting
- Specialty Fabrics Review: Insulated Fabric Offers Thermal and Acoustic Benefits
- U.S. Department of Energy: Natural Fiber Insulation Materials
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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