Thermal Drapes

Sally Painter
Thermal drapes reduce heat loss.

Thermal drapes are a great way to add insulation to your home, especially an older home that doesn't have modern windows.

Energy Benefits of Thermal Drapes

Conventional draperies can prevent 5 to 10 percent of normal heat loss in a room, whereas thermal draperies can prevent 25 percent or more in heat loss through your windows. An added energy benefit is that thermal drapes can also reduce summer heat gain.

How Thermal Drapery Fabrics Work

A thermal drape is constructed like a traditional drapery; however, the drapery material has a thermal backing. The thermal backing along with the pleated folds of the drapery help prevent heat loss in the winter or heat gain in the summer through your windows.

Winter Months

During the winter months, the thermal fabric creates a barrier between the window and your room. This barrier prevents cold air from entering your room and the heated air on the inside of the room from leaking out through the windows.

Summer Months

During the summer, the drapery fabric traps the heat coming in from the windows and prevents it from getting into your room. The heat is lost between the folds of the drapery pleats. The cool air inside your room doesn't suffer from any heat gain.

What Makes It Thermal

Many of the thermal drapes are lined with an acrylic foam backing. This foam backing creates an insulation barrier and blocks light. In some draperies, the foam backing is flocked with cotton or other material.

Other thermal draperies have patented process where several layers of special weaving creates a thermal envelop. The important thing to keep in mind when choosing which kind of thermal drapery to purchase is how much insulation you require.

If your home is new, chances are your windows prevent much of the traditional heat loss found in older homes. If you're living in an older home, especially one built prior to the era when thermal paned windows and double-paned thermal windows were manufactured, you may want to also consider adding thermal shades for greater window insulation.

What's Available

You can purchase almost any drapery size, color and fabric pattern with thermal liners and backings. You can even purchase shades with thermal backing.

Drapery Styles Available

Just about any traditional style of drapery is available in a thermal fabric style.

Drapery Styles:

  • Grommet Top
  • Pinch Pleat
  • Pocket Pleat
  • Tab

For maximum insulation, you may wish to purchase blackout draperies that are a great choice for daytime sleeping. Blackout draperies have several layers of thermal backing and are a great insulating material.

Patterns and Colors

You can purchase thermal drapes in many of the same kinds of fabric and even patterns that are found in traditional draperies.

Tips to Improve Thermal Properties

One of the best ways to increase the success of your new draperies is to hang your draperies as close to the window as possible. Your draperies should fall onto the floor or windowsill to block cold air. A cornice or valance over the top of your draperies will give you the best results by reinforcing the barrier created by the draperies.

You can further increase thermal efficiency by sealing your draperies. This is done by adding Velcro along the outer edges of your window. Place Velcro along the outer side hem lines of your draperies and along the wall. This will seal the drapery fabric to your wall. Next, apply Velcro on the inside vertical hems of both panels so you can seal the two draperies together. Make sure the drapery slightly overlaps. This technique has proven to be very effective where the windows are old and don't provide good insulation against heat and cold.

Retro Fit Your Draperies to Thermal

It may surprise you to learn that you can retro fit your current draperies to thermal drapes. You can use thermal liners or panels to add insulation properties to your existing draperies.

These panels are easy to attach to your draperies and will serve not only as a thermal barrier to cold air and summer heat, but also provide a blackout effect.

Adding Other Insulation to Your Windows

You may want to further insulate your windows by calking around the window frame and windowsill to reduce heat loss. Once you've done everything you can to prevent heat loss, you're ready to hand your thermal drapes and enjoy a warmer winter.

Thermal Drapes