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Insulated curtains can help lower your heating and cooling costs.­ See more pictures of green living.

­iStockphoto/Aimin Tang

­Every month, you're forced to break out the checkbook and pay a host of bills, including, of course, your ever-growing electric bill. As prices rise, people are always searching for new ways to keep energy costs down, and this article might have some ideas for you.

Insulated curtains are lined curtains meant to help keep warm air from leaving or entering through your windows, a l­arge source for heat exchange in almost every home [source: Mascarell]. This loss of heat exchange will help you keep your temperature constant without relying as heavily on the thermostat. Your air conditioner uses lots of electricity, so any step you can take to use it less should reflect on your bills and bank account.

Insulated curtains help maintain constant temperature by protecting your home from the four major types of heat loss: conduction, infiltration, convection and radiation [source: Solar Components]. Essentially, heat is energy that moves from warm areas to cool areas -- insulated curtains help slow down or stop that movement. The level of insulation depends on the curtains you buy, but most systems will comprise:

  • An outer decorative layer protected by an inner lining
  • A high-density foam that blocks heat exchange and sound waves
  • A reflective vapor barrier to block moisture
  • A reflective film that directs heat back into the room

[source: Nothing But Windows]

­Together, these layers insulate your windows against the conditions outside.

Often, there is also a magnetic strip sewn into the edges of the curtains and placed either in the window frame or along the surrounding walls. The magnets in the curtains form a tighter barrier with the wall than standard free-hanging curtains, adding another extra layer of protection.

These curtains are available in a variety of patterns, thickness and durability. They're all relatively easy to maintain and require mild dry cleaning to freshen up. Like normal curtains, a light vacuum while hanging will keep them looking bright and dust free.

So, interested in learning more about insulated curtains? Head over to the next page to learn what options you have, and then finish the research by reading over the benefits they offer.