By Kim Robson:
Up here in our little off-the-grid mountain home, we don’t have the option of air conditioning. Staying reasonably comfortable during the dog days of summer can be a challenge. One of the tricks in our toolkit is dark thermal curtains. Think of them as an extra, temporary layer of energy-saving insulation for all seasons.
Thermal blackout curtains work in several ways, both in the summer …
- Block sunlight from entering the room and heating it up
- Absorb and trap radiant heat from the window, and prevent it from migrating into the room
- Create a dimmer environment, which psychologically “feels’’ cooler
- Provide some sound baffling against those noisy neighbors’ pool parties
- Are better than using a sleep mask if you need a dark room for sleeping
- Are great for the media room – you can watch movies during the day
… And in the winter…
- Provide insulation to help keep cold out and warmth in
- Block cold drafts from entering the room
- Create a cozy environment, which psychologically “feels’’ warmer
- Provide some sound baffling against those howling winds
- And, besides, on a dark and stormy night, there’s nothing to see outside other than darkness
These curtains aren’t necessarily true “blackout” curtains; this isn’t an air raid during the Blitz. There still will be plenty of ambient light to see by. And if you want to keep air flowing through the room, simply use a binder clip to pin one corner aside. Or set up some fans.
Studies by the National Sleep Foundation have found that reduced light and noise are optimal for a good night’s sleep. For that reason, blackout curtains are perfect for the bedroom, children’s room, or baby nursery.
Don’t think that thermal curtains are going to look heavy and bulky, either. These machine-washable Eclipse brand panels, available from Home Depot, are as fashionable, stylish, elegant and naturally flowing as standard curtains, and are available in four different color options.
Our home is all about the view, though, so we don’t want permanently installed curtains at all. The solution we found was also quite economical. I purchased several yards of royal blue microfleece from the fabric store. I cut the panels to custom fit each of the windows, and they hang from a pair of screws installed at the top of the frame, out of sight. When the curtains aren’t needed, we can simply unhang them and fold them for storage in the linen closet. The microfleece is extremely insulating, and the dark blue color is pleasant and soothing.
Home heating and air conditioning are not cheap by any means. Thermal blackout curtains can be a simple, economical and stylish way to save money and conserve nonrenewable resources.