Energy Saving Curtains and Blinds: 8 hot tips to help cut your heating bills

Posted by on Nov 17, 2009 in Tips & Techniques | No Comments

In our last blog on energy saving we explored how carefully chosen linings and interlinings can give your curtains and roman blinds thermal properties and therefore help to minimise heat loss during the cold winter months. Continuing this theme, in this blog we have a few more tips to help cut those heating bills.

Tip 1 – Draught proof your windows and doors: with (thermally) lined and (preferably at least medium weight) interlined curtains. The photo in our last blog illustrates how much heat you can lose through your windows. Add door brushes to the underside of draughty doors, and insulation strips around the inside edges of the door.

Tip 2 – Minimise radiator heat escaping through walls! ahhh! there’s so much to say about radiators! The photo below shows just how much heat escapes directly through the wall behind a radiator. Consider therefore inserting radiator reflector foil (eg as available from screwfix) between the radiator and the wall. You won’t see it, but I think you’ll agree after looking at this photo, how important it is to stop that heat escaping.

Thermo imaging showing how much heat is lost from radiators directly through the wall
Thermo imaging showing how much heat is lost from radiators directly through the wall

Tip 3 – Seal out the cold air behind your curtains:  you can maximise the effectiveness of your new, thermal curtains by returning the outside edges of each curtain to the wall (often referred to as light lock – see picture below, left). For maximum insulating effect light lock your curtains as below, but opt for a pelmet board, track and pelmet system, as opposed to a pole (see picture below, right).

Returning curtains to wall at end of pole or track locks the draught out
Returning curtains to wall at end of pole or track locks the draught out

Tip 4 – Position your Radiators with care: there are conflicting reports on the pros and cons of positioning radiators under windows. Originally they were placed under the window to reduce drafts caused by heat loss from single glazed windows. However as windows have become more thermally efficient there is less reason than ever  today to position your radiators under the window.

However one thing is certain – you will be solving a major soft furnishing conundrum if you position your radiators elsewhere.  We have so many customers who, when faced with the choice of sill length curtains hanging just above the radiator, or floor length curtains that will completely cover the radiator, go for the floor length option, because, let’s face it, floor length curtains look much nicer than their sill equivalents.

Tip 5 – Use a radiator shelf: where your radiators are under the window, be creative – as there are various ways you can reduce the problem of heat loss. Fit a deep sill or shelf over the radiator, and position your curtains so that they touch the shelf. By touching the shelf your curtains will minimise draught from your windows, and the shelf will act to push the radiator heat out into your room, rather than into the void between the curtains and window.  A word of caution though:  as commented on one of Martin Lewis’s Money Saving Expert forums – “a shelf over a radiator will reduce its output by about 10% due to reduced air circulation. This does not mean a reduction in efficiency just that it will be less effective at heating the space. As most radiators are oversized you probably will not notice the difference except in the coldest weather. Putting furniture in front will have a similar effect”.

Tip 6 – …Or even better, use a radiator cover: The radiator cover will act like the shelf in projecting the heat outwards rather than up between the curtain and window, but is a much more aesthetic alternative than the shelf. Another word of caution though from the Martin Lewis forum – radiator covers probably reduce output by about 20% – but even this heat loss will be better than the alternative of losing that heat behind the curtain and out of the window! Remember also that thermostatic valves within the radiator cover will only control the air temperature within the radiator cover itself!

Tip 7 – improvise: on very cold, draughty nights, tuck your curtains up onto the window sill to create a sealed barrier around the window reveal. Any heat from a radiator below will rise over the face of the curtain rather than heating up the void behind the window reveal.

Tip 8 – And finally: the humble sausage shaped draught excluder is a great way to prevent draughts coming under the door. Eeewwwhhhhhh! Did I really type that?