Introduction: Lower Your Energy Bill With Chic Insulated Curtains

Picture of Lower Your Energy Bill With Chic Insulated Curtains

It is officially that time of year when those drafty windows and doors suddenly become a glaring reminder of your steep energy bill. Almost everyone I know has a cold window or door problem. Single-panes in the butt if you ask me. If replacing all the windows and doors aren't an option then maybe this instructable can help ease your troubles.

I recently turned a spare living area into my workspace. This is my first winter working in this room and after a couple of 19 degree days it became apparent that the large sliding door needed to be winterized. Since this is a creative space for me I didn't want to turn it into a plastic covered dungeon. Maybe for some that is a great solution for heat loss but not for me. I like to feel inspired and plastic doesn't do it for me! So from the start design and function were my priorities.

This tutorial is for insulated and sealed curtains. You can take this and apply it too any type of window or door and the costs are nothing compared to the money you will save. You can do this with any curtain of your liking. Not having to compromise your interior design is what sets this apart from your average winterizing.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

These are the materials that I used for at 72"x84" sliding door-

  • Curtain rod and mounts
  • 4 Yards of velcro
  • 2.5 Yards of fabric (valence)
  • 2, 1" wide x 73" long wood stakes
  • 4" wide x 79" long wood (yard sticks/ scrap wood)
  • 48"x10 yard batting

  • Staples and screws
  • Thread

Total Cost $60-$80

Tools needed to complete this project-

  • Sewing machine
  • Hammer
  • Staple Gun
  • Power Drill -OR- A screw driver if your battery decides to die forever like mine ;)

Total Time 2-4 hours

When I started this project I already had the curtain rod up and used materials I had around the house. The total cost is an estimate of what you'd have to pay to buy everything. Using coupons to buy the fabric and batting at Joann's can make a big difference in reducing the overall costs. Also the curtains were a great deal at Burlington coat factory for $14.99 for 2 54"x84" panels.

*If you are starting with a door or window that doesn't have curtains click here for video instructions on installing the curtain rod.

Step 2: Educate

The first thing I did was Google "how does insulation work." Understanding how heat loss works is nothing but valuable when trying to find ways to prevent it! If interested here is a quick overview. Or you can skip this step and trust that my super awesome insulated curtains are a great solution. :)

Step 3: Adding Velcro to the Curtains

Picture of Adding Velcro to the Curtains

Adding Velcro to the curtains is the very first step. This Velcro is what will seal the edges to the wall.

First lay out your curtains exactly how they will look when hanging.

Then separate the velcro pieces. You will be using the rough side of the Velcro. Place the soft Velcro pieces on the side for later.

Now center and pin the two yards of the rough Velcro pieces to the left panel outer edge and one on the right panel outer edge of the curtains. You are attaching the Velcro to the sides of the curtains that will touch the wall. I applied them 3/8" away from the edge.

*Make sure that you are pinning the Velcro to the right side/front side of the curtain.


Once it is in place sew along all four edges of the Velcro strips.

Step 4: Insulating Your Curtain Panels

Picture of Insulating Your Curtain Panels

After the velcro is attached to the otter edges of the curtain panels you are ready to add the batting. The batting will act as a sort of honeycomb effect to trap air and slow down the heat transfer.

Turn one of the curtain panels that have the velcro on it face down and lay it out flat. Roll the batting onto the fabric and center it within the Curtain. Pin it down on all four edges. Make sure the batting only goes about 1/2 past the loophole area(where the curtain rod goes). I also chose to end the batting 3 inches from the bottom of the curtain.

Sew the batting down on all four edges.

After the batting is attached you will grab your other curtain panel that mirrors this one and does NOT have velcro on it. Place the curtain panel on top of the batting with the wrong side touching the batting. Line up the seams and edges and pin the left side, top, and right side.

Sew the very top edge 1/4" away from the edge. Then sew below on the bottom of the loophole seam line which should be about 2 inches parallel to the top edge. You will be creating the hole for the curtain rod to go in. If you have curtains that have grommet holes don't fret, simply sew the curtains together right below the grommet line. Cut any excess batting that is above the line. The grommets should line up and work on the curtain rod as it normally would.

Now sew the left edge and the right edge. Be careful on the the velcro side. You should be sewing on the 3/8" seam allowance on the side of the velcro.

Repeat with the two panels for the other side. When you are finished you should have 2 thicker, two-sided curtain panels. The velcro side of the panels will face the wall and cannot be seen.

*The curtains I had were larger then the width of the batting, if you make sure they are the same size it would make things a lot easier! If you have the same size then simply sandwich the batting between curtain panels front and back. One of them will have the velcro, one will not. Make sure the curtain panel wrong sides are touching the batting.

Step 5: Sealing Your Curtains to the Wall

Picture of Sealing Your Curtains to the Wall

The next step is attaching the curtains to the wall. This will seal the curtains lowering your heat loss significantly.

First you will attach your soft velcro to the 1" wide wood stake. To do this I chose to staple the velcro onto the wood. Each staple should be about 4 inches away from the wood. Make sure that the velcro is flat and taut as you go.

After the velcro stakes are done you will attach it to the velcro on the curtain. This will help you get perfect placement. Place it onto the wall exactly where you want the velcro to go. (I have mine about 1 inch away from the edge of the door.) Mark it with a pencil. Remove the wood velcro piece from the curtain and nail it to the wall where you marked the placement.

Now stick the curtain panels to the velcro on the wall and make sure they are exactly where you want them. You should not be able to see the wood velcro pieces when the panels aren't attached. They should be perfectly hidden all the time.

*I chose to do it this way for several reasons. Easy removal without a ton of holes in the wall was one of them. I'm sure you can find other solutions that do the same trick. This is just one option that is cheap and effective.

Step 6: Making a Curtain Valence

Picture of Making a Curtain Valence

Your curtains are finished and sealed nicely to the wall but we still have a gap at the top that drafts will come through. To solve this I made a curtain valence that covers the holes at the top and snugly fits over the curtain.

First you will use brackets and attach them to the wall about 1/2" above the curtain rod. Cut your wood the same length as the curtain rod but 1" wider. My wood measured 4" wide x 79" long. Screw your wood down on the brackets.

*You can use very thin wood because it will only have light fabric attached to it. Molding, or even thick foam would work just fine also. I've even seen people use cardboard. In this case I wouldn't suggest it because of condensation but if that's all you got then do what yah gotta do.

Now you will cut out your fabric for the valence. For your length you measure the side edges and front edge of the wood and add them all together(4" + 4" + 79" = 87"). Then decide how long you want the valence to drape, add the width of the wood and times that by 2. I wanted the valance to drape 12" so I added the 4" width of the wood and multiplied that by 2 because I wanted to fold the fabric in half((12" + 4") x 2 = 32"). Folding makes the fabric thicker and also makes it so you don't have to hem the edge. My measurements were 32" wide x 87" long.

For the batting measurement you will use the same 87" length. The width of the batting will be your desired length plus the width of the wood minus 1 inch(12" + 4" -1" = 15). My batting measured 15" wide x 87" long.

Once you have everything cut out you are ready to attach the batting to the wood. Lay the batting onto the wood with the edge hitting the wall. You are going to wrap the corners exactly like a present. Staple the batting corner edge and the top back edge next to the wall.

For the fabric you need to fold it in half and iron it very well. Then attach it the same way you did the batting just make sure the raw edges are touching the wall and the fold is hanging.

After that you are done! :)

*If you want crisp corners you can add a pin tuck or pleat.

*There are countless different ways to make a valence. This is a great place to play with the design and adjust it to your taste.

Step 7: Results

Picture of Results

By now if you followed the tutorial you should have two sided insulated curtains that not only function well but look great too! Somehow these turned out even better than I expected. My heater rarely kicks on as opposed to running all day like it did before. You can feel a significant temperature difference by touching the inside of the curtain and comparing it to the outside. Did I mention that these are great for the summer as well? They will keep your room cool on those hot summer days.

So to recap...

  • They provide a year-round function
  • They lower your energy bill
  • They don't interfere with your interior design
  • They are fully customizable
  • They are machine washable
  • They are cheap to make!

Those reasons right there should be more than enough motivation to do this project, you will not regret it! Good luck :)

Comments

josephlebold (author)2014-11-27

Then moisture builds up on the windows and mold grows.

Tina MarieS (author)josephlebold2015-11-19

I live on Canada's wet (west?) coast and have the original 1950's windows, with gaps between the winows. Every morning the window are covered in condensation and the heaters kick in all day. ? I keep a sqeegee and rag handy, to keep ahead of the mold.

I love the idea for the insulated curtains! Thank you for the idea.
Although, I think I would sew the lauers together at intervals and use a darker or blackout fabric on the back. (? I like a dark room.)

Tina MarieS (author)Tina MarieS2015-11-19

That is... Sew the layers together! Sorry for the typo!

Rachael K (author)josephlebold2014-11-28

I stay on top of cleaning my windows and drying if necessary so mold is never a problem.

dsantil71 (author)2015-01-17

I love ur curtains! Very professional looking!

Cheese Queen (author)2014-11-27

Try to figure out something to more or less seal the BOTTOM of your curtains to the floor (there is still cold air rolling down off the cold patio door and coming out under the curtain bottom.

To keep the curtain or drape usable and movable, try creating an weighted hem along the bottom exactly at floor level.

You can sew 2 tubes the width of each curtain panel; make them 2 or 3" in diameter and fill about halfway with sand or shot. Tack, sew or staple the tube every 4" to 6" depending on your fabric so that you end of with a long tube of little "pillows"- this lets the bottom of the curtain flex more naturally and keeps the sand evenly distributed. Tack or sew the tube to the curtain so that when attached, the tube hits the floor.

A moderately heavy length of chain can also be enclosed in the tube rather than sand- chunks of wood, spare nuts and bolts, or anything that will naturally pull the entire length of the tube hem to the floor and keep it there, sealing the cold air on the window side away from the room.

Rachael K (author)Cheese Queen2014-11-28

That is a great idea :) I considered adding magnets into the hem to attach it to the frame but decided to leave it as is. It overlaps the ground and I have a rug against the door frame to help seal the bottom.

dsantil71 (author)Rachael K2015-01-17

I sorta like what Cheese Queen is suggesting but would worry bout the added weight to the curtain rods. Maybe something similar like the door draft guards instead & come create ur own pattern to custom fit. Something simple,1 or 2 long cylinders attached to a flat panel. Can make the cylinder(s) a diameter that a foam pipe cover could slip into then maybe add some other filler. Just throwing out ideas, lol.

kate.pickeral (author)2015-01-14

They look great. A lot of work. FYI I used to have foil emergency blankets taped in our windows upstairs. I finally took them down; I got tired of hearing them move back and forth in the draft. LOL

Rachael K (author)kate.pickeral2015-01-14

Thanks, I love how they turned out. Took me about 3-4 hours but once they're done, they're done. That's my mantra in between foul language aimed at my sewing machine. I considered doing the emergency blankets too lol, that or the bubble wrap seem like the best quick fixes.

bonzoyl (author)2014-11-27

did you also velcro where the two curtains meet in the middle?

Rachael K (author)bonzoyl2014-11-28

I did not. I thought about adding it but opted to simply overlap them since I go in and out of the door frequently. I also wanted the curtains to look like totally normal curtains. It would definitely be sealed better if you did add Velcro where they meet.

Taranach (author)Rachael K2014-12-03

You might consider getting some of those magnetic strips. There are ones that come with adhesive on the back or, better yet, you could sew on a narrow pocket of very thin fabric... the magnets will hold it together for normal air drafts but part easily when going through and stick back together quickly...

bonzoyl (author)Rachael K2014-11-28

They are terrific! what made me think of it: my late husband used safety pins to keep all the curtains tightly together to make it darker......i prefer light! Terrific instructions! Useful.thanks.

sunshiine (author)2014-12-01

Congratulations in making finalist! This is a great idea and thanks for sharing!

sunshiine~

Rachael K (author)sunshiine2014-12-01

Thank you Sunshine!

charlessenf-gm (author)2014-11-27

Harbor Freight Tools sells Mover's blankets 80" x 72" (or so - $5.99 on sale) that fit these Patio Door sized spaces. walmart sells (pkg of 7) circular clips that fit a 3/4" rod for $2.87 US. Alternating the clips (spacing) on two of these, then threading the 1/2" conduit tube through all of the clips, I was able to double these up 1. Against a steel Garage door, our Patio Doors and on my shed/shop where I leave the 'barn doors' cracked 8" or so to allow our two dogs to seek shelter/get at their food at will. One could cover either side with a fancy fabric (they come in a Dark Blue - boo!) but for a Winter's respite - who cares! BTW, on he patio doors, I used one of those retractable curtain rod things where you pull down on one rope to open and on the other to close the opening. (In our case, to the left) .

amandimal (author)charlessenf-gm2014-12-01

Even better, instead of using batting, consider making a trip to your local thrift shop so you can use upcycled blankets or quilts as insulation? Good for your wallet and the environment :)

Rachael K (author)charlessenf-gm2014-11-28

I love ways to make things cheaper! Thanks for the tips.

valkgurl (author)2014-11-27

We have window quilts---these are made using some sort of pre-quilted material (much like a bedspread) with velcro on the edges that attach to velcro strips that adhere directly to the wall. These have been up over our 30 year old sliding glass doors that are not square in the frame and our single pane 30 year old odd size basement thru-the-wall windows for about 25 years now. These def DO help keep it warmer and cooler. Just recently we had a bit of house settling and one corner of the quilt pulled free--we noticed an immed. change in the cold draft level in the room. To fix--for now--we used spray on foam and will re-glue the velcro.

This idea--if you can find fabric or pre-made curtains--is a very good and probably better looking one--altho you could do a window quilt and hang curtains over that.

Rachael K (author)valkgurl2014-11-28

Wow 25 years?! That's amazing. Well worth the investment! This is kind of how I came to the idea. I read online others that hang quilts or tapestries on windows in cold climates for insulation. I unfortunately didn't have any quilts and the door was so big but I did have a bunch of batting. How nice is it to be able to throw them into the washer? That's probably what made yours last so long as well.

jtmcdole (author)2014-11-27

If you had a foil on the other side, they would reflect UV during the summer, keeping the room cooler.

Rachael K (author)jtmcdole2014-11-28

That's a great idea, could even use space blankets.

Flying Ace (author)2014-11-27

Very nice, wonder if your fabric AND bubble wrap would work better. Read something like this on another site about bubble wrap for insulation. They suggested the large bubbles do a better job than the small ones, however, in this case the large ones may not be an option due to the needed flexability of the curtains for movement.

Rachael K (author)Flying Ace2014-11-28

Yes absolutely, I think both would be better. Just not ideal for me with this door and a toddler running amuck, haha.

Rachael K (author)2014-11-28

Loving all the tips and ideas! Best part about this is how easily you can customize it to your own needs or preferences.

Susitna (author)2014-11-25

If I were going to use bubble wrap, I would probably use some thin polyester shower curtains to make a pocket. As an Alaskan growing up in villages too small to have stores, I tend to see odd possibilities in every day items. These curtains are strong, water repellent, and very thin. I NEVER pass up a $3 or less at a yard sale or thrift store.
I also use them as table coverings and table merchandise covers at collectable shows. They are light enough that only the most fragile figurines need to be laid flat. When I was raising little parrots, I made cobbler approns. It's a rare parrot that can be potty trained. They also make good light weight rain ponchos. They're not good enough for heavy rain, but work well for short periods of time.

Susitna (author)2014-11-25

If you want your curtain to let in light, rolled bubble wrap could be used. The trapped air is the key. That's why Eskimos make their everyday parkas fur side inside. That's also why down ( NOT DOWN & FEATHER) parkas and comforters are so magical. Because I am severely allergic to petroleum fumes, I have not been able to use my gas furnace since 1994. For keeping the cold out, trapped air ROCKS!

Rachael K (author)Susitna2014-11-25

Thanks for the tips! Bubble wrap was definitely a contender when I was figuring this out. Then the image of my toddler son attacking it came into mind, haha. I need the door slide open as well. I think I will try the bubble wrap on a window and see how it goes! :)

jessyratfink (author)2014-11-24

What a fantastic idea! I've been considering doing something like this for a bit. I'm happy to know it worked really well! :D

Rachael K (author)jessyratfink2014-11-24

Thank you! You definitely should :)

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