Out the window

Apparently, a typical house loses 10% of its heat through the windows… a figure that I’m assuming applies to houses in the UK. And, whilst few of us are likely to be taken with the idea of not having windows, it does give us something to think about.

Windows certainly save us money on lighting and are valuable for ventilation, but they are also a drain on our energy consumption during cold weather. Perhaps the easiest answer, however unfashionable, is curtains. You could have energy-saving windows fitted, with special glass, but the cost is probably prohibitive unless you need your windows replacing anyway. And curtains are readily available, easily fitted and within the budget of many people. You don’t need to be able to make them yourself and, as long as there is already a curtain rail, hanging them is quite straightforward.

Curtains on a track or rail

On the subject of what to hang them from, you have a choice – a rail (track) or a pole. I prefer the former, as they usually fit more snugly to the wall and thus avoid draughts. However, I do have a curtain pole in my office because this allows space for the blind, which is a useful addition – allowing some light in but preventing glare from the sun in the summer when I’m working at my computer. Talking of which – curtains can be useful for keeping the sun out on hot summer days when you want to keep cool… better than opening a window, which just lets the heat in.

And curtains are not just good for windows. In my last post talked about repairing the curtain that we have over our front door. We live in a house with double glazing and well-fitted windows and doors, but even so there is considerable heat loss through them. The front door curtain is, therefore, a really valuable addition to our energy-saving measures. The prevailing wind where we live is from the west and that is, of course, the direction that our front door faces. With a glass panel beside it and a key hole and letter slot in it, routes for heat loss are clear. In addition, it has a metal handle, which must conduct plenty of heat. The curtain over it is very heavy and has a thermal lining and since we put it up about two years ago there has been a noticeable increase in heat in the hallway over the winter, particularly on windy days.

Curtains will probably be a more stylish option for insulation this winter!

We have curtains at all our windows, except the one over the sink in the kitchen, but they are of varying weights. The best ones for heat insulation have thermal linings, which also protect the curtain fabric from being damaged by UV light. Our French Windows in the kitchen currently only have very light gauzy curtains and the heat loss through the metal handles was so noticeable during the coldest of the winter last year, that they ended up insulated with a pair of oven mitts!  This year will be different – before it gets too much colder, I will be buying some curtains to replace the yellow summer gauze.

So, when you are thinking about saving energy and money, consider investing in some curtains before you spend thousands on building work.

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  1. Small steps | The Snail of Happiness

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