Window coverings can be much more than a decorative touch in your home if you pay attention to the linings within the curtains. For instance, an insular lining can serve to help keep the home's temperature regulated and dim outside noises. Heavy weaves and double-lined curtains can act as a shield to keep light out.
Blackout curtains are made of either tightly woven, dense or layered fabric such as felt, velvet or suede. Likewise, a blackout liner, which often is a component of blackout curtains, can be added to a regular curtain to create the same effect. The primary purpose of blackout curtains is to keep light from streaming into the home where it is not wanted, but they also can serve to help insulate the home by blocking direct sunlight. Blackout curtains shouldn't be ironed, bleached or placed in the washing machine because of their often synthetic linings. Spot cleaning with a damp cloth or steaming is the best bet. Carefully follow the care instructions on the curtain's label.
Windows tend to be the one of the largest avenues of heat loss in homes because glass is such a poor insulator, and the seal of the window to the frame can degrade over time. Even though thermal curtains also filter out unwanted natural light, they function first as a way to insulate the home. Thermal curtains are either double- or triple-layered heavy fabric with a thick backing of insulate material and often a polyester-film vapor barrier. Thermal curtains generally are made of 100-percent cotton, wool or polyester, and coated on the window side with acrylic foam or a layer of aluminum to protect it from ultraviolet damage. These curtains, because of thick batting, also act as a sound barrier that may muffles some of the noises from busy streets and high-traffic areas. Follow the care instructions on your curtain's label; generally, thermal curtains need to be thoroughly hand-washed with a mild detergent and warm water or placed in the washing machine on the gentle cycle, once a year. Hang them to dry and lightly iron them if needed. Regular vacuuming/dusting and spot treating with a damp cloth is enough to keep these curtains clean the rest of the year.
Using either blackout or thermal curtains -- or both -- in your home may help you save on energy costs. They can decrease the amount of money spent on heating and air conditioning because of the curtain's ability to reduce the amount of heat lost in cooler months and reflect heat in the summer. Although window treatments alone won't be able to get rid of drafts in your home, they can be effective with energy conservation. A lot of considerations go into deciding which curtains are the most sustainable and efficient for your home, so carefully assess your needs and do the research; specialized curtains can't do all of the work in decreasing expenditures or environmental footprints, but they can begin you on your journey to a more sustainable and energy efficient home.
Deciding Which Suits Your Home
Choosing the type of curtain that suits your home mainly depends on what you determine is your biggest problem. If the home already is thoroughly insulated and natural light is the main issue, go with blackout curtains; if outside light doesn't bother you but you're plagued with drafty windows, thermal curtains are the better choice. Still, both curtains can work to reduce both issues at least a little bit. Blackout and thermal curtains easily are found at major retail stores in a wide variety of colors. You also could create your own with bold, graphic fabrics -- as long as you pay attention to the weave and insulation of the curtain you want to create.
About the Author
Brigette Brown is a writer and editor from Southern California. She's a graduate of the MFA Design Criticism program at the School of Visual Arts and enjoys writing about design, architecture, art and museums. Brown has been published in "Surface Magazine" and "Taking the Lane."
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