Yet another day of near record cold here and I realized that most of the winter I’ve been neglecting one of the simplest things I could be doing to warm my rooms – closing the curtains!
Yes it’s true – even The Energy Geek forgets the basics.
Why is closing the curtains so important? That little air gap between the window and curtains acts as insulation and can cut the heat loss out your windows by half or more. This is pretty significant when you consider that the windows may be sucking more heat out of the room than the walls.
Another reason you want to close the curtains is to reduce drafts. When the warm room in the air gets near the window, it cools down. Cool air is more dense (i.e. heavier) than warm air so it drops down to the floor. That creates a void of less dense air which other air in the room rushes in to fill. Voila! A convection current forms and you feel a draft.
An even more esoteric reason for closing the curtains is something called radiant heat loss. In the same way that you feel warm when the sun hits your skin (the sun is radiating energy that your skin absorbs), the process works in reverse when it’s cold outside. Your warm skin radiates heat right out the window. This is one of the reason low-e windows helps. They actually reflect much of the heat back into the room so you literally feel less cold standing in front of a low-e window than a conventional one.
If you’re looking for a really effective cure to improve these cold-weather chills, look into cellular shades, like shown above. I installed these some years ago even though I already have high-tech, super insulating windows. Why? Because they work! Really well, in fact. For about $100-$150/window, you can get them and install them yourself in an afternoon if you’re a little handy (it just requires the ability to make some measurements and screw in a few screws).
This is exactly what it sounds like – quilts for your windows. They can work amazingly well and don’t have to break the bank. It can be as simple as a rectangular frame covered with quilt material, sized to fit snugly in your window opening. Or, as fancy and expensive as a motorized system with special tracks that provide push-button control or even automated opening and closing.
Here’s a Google search where you’ll find all sorts of information on these quilts for your windows.
One word of warning:
They work so well that when you open the shades in the morning, you might find condensation or even ice on your windows. Please, grab a towel and wipe the water. You don’t want water sitting on your wooden window sills every morning or eventually it may lead to mold growth and/or wood-rot.