Introduction: Save Heat, Money, and Energy With Easy Pelmets for Your Windows

About: Making things inspires me. When I'm in a creative space I feel really alive, whether I'm painting a portrait or renovating a kitchen, and learning new things from the generous example of others inspires me eve…

You lose a stack of energy around the windows of your house, even if you have blinds and curtains, and (apparently) you can save something like 15% of your energy  just by adding pelmets to your windows.

So I asked at the curtain shop how much it would be for pelmets, and they quoted me something outrageous (I can't recall now what) and times that by however many windows I have it was incredibly outrageous. As I'm a miser with a cordless driver, i thought about it for a bit and decided to make my own.

After a little working out, with a few mistakes here and there, for about $40 a pelmet (mine are a little over 2m long) my house is toasty warm for the coming winter and I'm a happy little vegemite.

It's quite easy even if you don't have your own workshop. I went to Bunnings and asked them to cut the timber to my precise measurements (and they did, give or take one or three mm - if i'm fussy i get them to cut to the lengths that fit in my car and cut to precision at home) and the smaller pieces i needed i cut myself. You'll need a drill and a screwdriver, some 6g wood screws, some cup hooks, and (for masonry walls) some dynabolts and a hammer drill. And some filler, paint, some curtain rods.

As an added bonus you can also use the top of the pelmet as a bookshelf if you need some extra shelving.

So in a day you can have pelmets (and curtains) as easy as pie. Not as tasty tho...

And to be completely scientific, you can check the temperature of your  room before pelmets, to compare to the after pelmet improvement.

If like me you want to know why it works, google 'how pelmets work' or go to:
So it seems pelmets don't just help you keep warm air in during winter, but helps keep your cool air in when the heat outside increases as well.

p.s if you like this 'ible, please rate me, i like the feedback :)

Step 1: Measure the Windows

Measure your windows. Measure each window and don't assume they are the same - i have three '1.8'm identical windows with openings that actually measured in at 1795, 1805 and 1810. Anyway, measure up and write down your measurements for each window - to the outside frame or inside of the window space.

Add however much you need to the side of the windows so your curtains can sit to the side and not block the window. That'll depend on how much curtain you need - wider windows = more curtains;  thicker curtains = wider pelmets.

I wanted thick material to insulate against the cold, so I wanted to add at least 120mm - 100 mm for the curtains and 18 mm thickness of the end of the pelmet.

I used 138 x 18 mm pre primed pine board, about $7 a linear metre.

Step 2: Cut the Timber

My pelmets for 1800mm windows were 2080 in the end (1800 + 140 +140). So that's 2 lengths at 2080 butted up together.

I needed two end pieces cut to fit the end, the width of the timber minus the width, in this case 138-18 = 120, minus 1mm to be on the safe side = 119mm.

Step 3: Drill, Then Glue and Screw

Line up your bits on your bench and pre drill holes for the screws. Countersink them so you can hide the screws with filler.

Over the 2m lengths, I used 4 screws at roughly 500mm intervals. On the end pieces one screw in each side was sufficient. Put a bead of wood glue to seal the joints.

Fill the holes with putty or filler. I also filled the ends where the cuts were rough and joints not precise. After letting the filler set for a few hours I sanded it back and painted them.

Step 4: Add Curtain Rod Hooks

I decided to be happy with curtain rods for my windows - initially i checked out the tracks but they scared me too much with all the little bits and pieces that looked so complicate... If you already have curtain rods or rails, you can still use the pelmets around the existing ones, just leave the hooks out and put your brackets to the sides of the existing hardware.

Measure your rods to fit inside your pelmet with a 10 mm gap either end for ease of removal while being snug enough not to fall off the hooks.

Measure 30 mm in from the ends and mark up a line to place the hooks. For these I wanted the hooks close to each side leaving a large enough gap in the middle to be able to maneouvre the rods easily.

Also measure a halfway mark for the middle hooks because you'll want your curtains to meet in the middle nicely.

Pre-drill the holes with a smaller bit than the hooks screw thread so they won't come out but don't split the wood going in either. Mine poked through the other side a mm or two so i rotated them back a turn or two so the top would be smooth for dusting or using as a shelf.

Step 5: Put Up Brackets

I have double brick walls and the previous curtain rails had pulled out because they were not fixed securely enough in the first place.

So i went for overkill and used 4 dynabolts, each with a load rating of 70 kgs, so even if one or two of them hit mortar in between bricks (which some did), i could load the windows with 140kgs and they should stay up ok. I'm not planning on testing them like that of course...

I used simple brackets 120x100mm, with the longer section sticking out from the wall. I would have liked to do it the other way but they would have been too visible under the pelmets.

Measure and mark the wall where the brackets go, measure twice, drill once, as they say.

I used my dust catcher - being too lazy to vacuum afterwards.

OH&S note: When drilling into masonry be sure to wear eye and ear protection - i forgot to use earplugs and my ears are still ringing. And a dust mask because the dust and grit get places you'd rather they didn't.

To be sure of my holes (after my first mistake) i ended up drilling the top one then checking the exact bracket i was going to use (each brackets holes were in different locations, some up to 10mm out - what a joy that was to discover) and marking the bottom hole for drilling then. I also learned if i drilled the first bit of the hole lightly the bit didnt wander so much and my hole ended up more in the right place.

I've never worked out how to be sure i'm not going to drill into a brick or the mortar in between other than measuring a brick down from the last time I hit mortar- in this flat the mortar is quite sandy so I don't trust it - let me know if you have a tip for that.

Then place the dynabolts in the bracket holes and smack them in with a hammer. Then tighten with a wrench to fit the bolt head, nice and tight so they can't possibly pull out.

Then do a test run with the pelmet so you can check the markings of the other bracket are in the right place, and drill and bolt the second pelmet.

Step 6: 'Upload' the Pelmet...

(you can tell I spend too much time on the computer, can't you?)

This is the step i missed when i first published this 'ible.

Once the brackets are up and the pelmets are ready, you have to put them up. To be on the safe side I put a holding screw into each end of the bracket so i didnt get 7kgs of pelmet on my head if I got too excited with my curtains one day.

The other thing I thought of after i put mine up was to check the space where the pelmet meets the wall. On my first wall it was quite flush, but the second wall was wonky so there was a gap between it and the pelmet of up to 4 mm in places - not that you can see it once the curtains are up but one of the main principles of energy conservation is that where you lose air you gain or lose heat.

So I could have used some calking agent, but it seemed a bit too permanent and messy - and i wanted to be able to remove the pelmets when i paint the walls - so i decided on a thin self adhesive foam sealing tape for the pelmet edge that touches the wall.

Step 7: Curtains and Rods

Ok, so i didn't go with proper curtains because i couldnt find any that insulated as well as i wanted for the price i wanted. And i havent worked out how to sew my own yet; so i came up with a curtain alternative that has worked ok so far.

The insulating layer closest to the window is polar fleece - a single layer with cafe clips, or a double layer simply folded over the curtain rod for extra insulation trapping the air in between the layers.

A bonus was that polar fleece worked out to be almost a total blackout curtain, and was quite cheap - less than $10 per metre.

The outer layer of a nice organza is to trap more air and to have a translucent layer to allow light in in the daytime. - and to look nice in the evening rather than looking at polar fleece. You may have guessed I like rich colours, so mine are purple and magenta, but in the flat next door I used a demure coffee cream combination.

Now (for you scientific types) measure the temperature again with pelmets and curtains to see how much they improve the internal climate of your house, and let me know if they make a difference. Mine did by about 2 to 3 degrees, meaning i can turn the heater down and save electricity...

Another thing you might want to do with your pelmets is to cover them with fabric to match your curtains, but i like the clean lines of these as they are. I imagine you could also fashion them more decoratively, or use a decorative molding or painted finish to complement the style of your home if you felt so inclined.