How Thermal Curtains Work: It’s Not Magic, It’s Science!

The insulating properties of curtains are their biggest advantage– so what do thermal curtains have to offer that regular curtains don’t? Also described as insulated curtains, these unique winter curtains are specially lined to prevent warm air from escaping, while blocking cold air from coming in.

There’s a common misconception that thermal drapes actually add warmth to the room.┬áIt’s true that they keep the room warmer, but this is largely because these curtains are exceptionally good at sealing in the heat from your home’s thermostat. As a result, your home stays warmer for longer than it would without these insulating curtains. Even better: thermal curtains enable reduced usage of electricity, lowering your energy bills.

Layers and their scientific purposes

There are four ways in which your home can lose heat: conduction, infiltration, convection and radiation. Heat is essentially energy in motion, which travels from warm to cool environments. The role of winter curtains is to slow down or halt this movement.

All thermal drapes are made differently, but a typical design will consist of four different layers. First there’s the outer layer made for design of the curtains, which is guarded by an inner lining. The second layer is made up of high-density foam, blocking heat loss and sound waves. Then there’s the reflective vapor barrier to halt moisture. A final reflective film layer directs drifting heat waves back into the room.

Varieties of curtains

Homeowners can choose from a variety of curtains, which differ both in design and efficiency. For example, Elegance Thermal Insulated Curtains by Ricardo Trading are made of 100 percent polyester, with an extra protective foam backing to reduce 85 percent of light. Alternatively, Ellery’s Serico Stripe Eclipse Thermaback Curtains block 99 percent of light, and features a design made of 60 percent rayon and 40 percent cotton.

Whether you buy a moderate or highly efficient treatment, make sure to get the most for your money by sewing a magnetic strip to the edge of the curtain to seal up any gaps in your heat barrier. Some curtains will even come with this feature already installed.

Caring for your curtains

Knowing how your curtains are designed can provide some hints as to how they should be cared for. Because of their multi-layered properties, thermal window treatments are often the easiest to clean. You can freshen them up with a light vacuum or do a partial cleaning with soap and warm water. Many curtains are machine washable, but be sure to consult the manufacturer before going through with this process.

Make sure not to leave your window treatments bunched up for a long period of time, since this can trap moisture and compromise the quality of the drapes. Although the absorption capacity of thermal drapes is a major advantage for blocking air and sound waves, it is also vulnerable to absorption of unpleasant smells, moisture, and other airborne contaminants. Because of this, smoking and activities related to water are best to do in another room or outdoors.

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