How Insulated Curtains Work

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.

Types of Insulated Curtains

You've probably seen insulated curtains when staying at a hotel, but it's not often you meet someone who says the inspiration for his or her home decor came from that generic motel down the street. But these days, insulated curtains are far more mainstream, which means you have many options to fit your personal style.

While you can purchase special insulated curtains from certain manufacturers, in the end, you can make almost any window dressing into an insulated system. That means your options are pretty much limitless, especially when you consider that many choose to make their own insulated curtains at home. Directions are available at most fabric stores and on the Internet.

Insulated curtains come in Roman shades, hobbled shades, balloon shades, classic curtains and side-draw shades, and they can be instituted into systems that use draperies, valances, shutters and more [source: Solar Components]. The outermost layer can be made from almost any fabrics, so you can choose one specifically for your room.

If you chose to buy manufactured insulated curtains, the variety is likely to be a bit smaller. At the same time, quality is likely to be higher. Your choices will depend on which brand or manufacturer you choose to use. And remember, you could most likely re-cover these curtains with the fabric of your choice at a later point. After all, what's one more layer?

So you know the basics, and you know what options you have in purchasing, but just why might you want these thick, lined curtains? Head over to the next page to read up on the benefits insulated curtains bring to the window.

Benefits of Insulated Curtains

There are two major benefits recognized from using insulated curtains. First, insulated curtains help control room temperature. These curtains add an extra layer of protection over your windows -- which are almost always the leading source of heat loss or exchange in your home -- by increasing the R-value of your window [source: Solar Components]. During the warm summer months, these window coverings will block out the sun's heat, so you can use less air conditioning. Then in the winter, they help hold heat in the house, allowing you to turn that thermostat down. Since cooling and electric heat are big contributors to a household's overall electric bill, the benefits from cutting down on how much you need to use them can be significant.

Second, insulated curtains help soundproof a room. Not only will they keep noises from your yard out, but they'll keep your noises in. You'll still need to be considerate of your neighbors when blasting the stereo, but the curtain will alleviate some of that noise. The thick curtains absorb sound waves, keeping them from vibrating into your home and ears, or vice versa.

For even more helpful information on insulated curtains, be sure to check out the links on the next page.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Banks, Karen E. "How to Make Insulated Curtains." EHow (Accessed 03/08/2009)
  • Creative Home Decorating Ideas. "Insulated curtains save energy." (Accessed 03/08/2009)
  • Mascarell, Samuel. "Keep Your Room Temperature Constant With the Insulated Curtains." Home Decorating Reviews. (Accessed 03/08/2009)
  • Nothing But Windows. "Insulated Curtains and Their Benefits." (Accessed 03/08/2009)
  • Solar Components. "Warm Windows Insulated Shade System. (Accessed 03/08/2009)
  • Warm Window. "Shades for Comfort." Warm Window Insulated Shade System. Solar Components. (Accessed 03/08/2009) Downloaded at