Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Close Curtains at Dusk to Save Energy

curtainsThis month I've challenged myself (and you) to try to cut my home heating bill with energy saving measures. This is perhaps the most important thing you can do to cut your carbon footprint, as 84% of typical domestic energy use (in Britain) goes for space heating and water heating.

I've already talked about loft insulation, but that's quite expensive (about £200-£500) and time-consuming. It's worth it, as it will only take couple of years before you've saved that much on your energy bills. But there are also simpler and cheaper things you can do to cut your home heating bills.

For example closing all your curtains at dusk will trap heat in your home. Remember to close the curtains in any room that has a radiator (such as bedrooms and spare rooms) at the same time. However you heat your house, closing the curtains after dark prevents heat from escaping through the windows.

For maximum benefit, make sure all your curtains are lined, preferably with thermal lining. Mine aren't, but as I get round to replacing them I'll make sure any new curtains I make or buy have thermal lining. Pelmets also help to stop heat escaping through the window (I really hate the look of pelmets though - ugh). And finally, make sure your curtains don't drape down over the radiators, as this would totally defeat the purpose - all the heat would be trapped behind the curtain and go straight out through the window. You might as well burn money. If any of your curtains fall over the radiators, go and chop them off with scissors straight away - it doesn't take long to sew up the hem with a sewing machine, or get some iron-on bonding to neaten up the cut edge.

If you promise to remember to close all your curtains after dark, you can click "I've done one thing on the list!" in the poll in the right-hand-sidebar. If you want to see the other items on the list, they're on the March Challenge blog post.

14 comments:

Joanna said...

We have a huge kitchen window, not double-glazed, so we've drawn the curtains at dusk for years - it really makes a difference. Those curtains are felt, which is good at trapping heat. If your curtains are unlined, you could make an instant difference by hanging old blanket cut to fit from the header tape, using a second set of hooks, a good piece of thrift/recycling, and cheaper than new curtains. I rather agree with you about pelmets, although I think wooden ones can be decorated to look lovely ... I seem to remember that you are pretty nifty at carpentry (shelves?)

Joanna

Joyce said...

I notice that on home decorating shows long curtains and drapes are back in style (here in the states, anyway). But in my house, there are floor registers for forced air heat located right under each window. Same pproblem as covering radiators. So, I guess I'll be out of style once again. Sigh.

gregra&gar said...

Any radiator located under a window is a great mistake on the face of it. There is no length of curtain that will prevent the rising heat going behind it and out the window.

Nancy J. Bond said...

An excellent tip. One only has to feel the cold radiating from an exposed night window to realize that closing the curtains would work in reverse. Great post!

Yellow said...

If your radiators aren't hot enough to burn hands, am I right in thinking it would be safe to tuck long curtains behind radiators, so that all the heat is pushed into the room? I suppose the alternative is to cut the curtains so they're above the radiator height, and add a narrow shelf above the length of the radiator to direct heat into the room, istead of straight up & some snaking behind the curtain.

Skipweasel said...

Something else you can do, which won't benefit you directly but will make power generation more efficient is spread the load out.
If you look at the load-graph
http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/Electricity/Data/Realtime/Demand/demand24.htm
you can see it's very uneven across 24hrs. By using high current devices in the small hours you can increase what's called the base-load and reduce the peak load. This helps make the whole process more efficient. If you're on Economy7 electricity you'll already know this!
We run the washing machine and dishwasher late at night.

Debs said...

You could also use inexpensive heat reflective foil behind each radiator to send the heat to the room rather than the wall. Available from DIY stores.

Jane said...

Another top tip and even better than thermal linings is 'bump' interlining, it's basically a thick blanket sandwiched between the curtain and the lining and is really good. You do have to make sure you curtain rods are strong enough to take it though. We go our holidays to a highland cottage that has these type of curtains over the doors too - cosy

N. & J. said...

Great idea we don't have curtains up in our rental but we do have blinds to close.

N.

http://badhuman.wordpress.com

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