I’m getting ready for winter here, and have been thinking about some things I can do to keep our house warm without needing to increase our heating costs. In our area, gas and electric rates are set to rise sharply this winter, and I know many other areas across the country are facing this same situation. I just bought the oldest three kids new sets of thermals on ebay, since a warm underlayer makes a really big difference to keeping warm, in and out of the house. That will help them stay warm even if I don’t keep the heat up too high. Another thing I’m doing, which is addressing the aspect of keeping the house warmer, is making (and hanging) thermal shades.
Have you ever heard of people covering their windows with blankets during the winter to keep the cold air out? Thermal shades, or window quilts, are based on that same idea. I’m using materials that I had around the house to make them, so I don’t have any extra material costs. The only expense is a spring tension rod (under $4) for each window to hang them on.
Here’s how I’m making ours: I’m using a layer of batting on the inside, and a layer of muslin to surround the batting on each side. It’s like a sandwich – muslin, batting, muslin. Then I’m stitching them all together, and I made a one inch casing at the top to insert the curtain rod in. Since the muslin is a light cream color, they let the light come through but the three layers of material are thick enough to keep really reduce drafts. Our windows are only ten years old, but there’s still a significant amount of air leakage – I can only imagine how bad the old windows are. They also match all of the bedrooms, and look nice from the inside and outside.
There are less labor intensive ways to do it if you don’t have time or basic sewing skills (though all you need to know is how to run a straight stitch on a sewing machine), and in my boys’ bedroom, I have two temporary curtains done in a quickie way. If I had enough batting, I would have done all of them like this, but I didn’t. One layer of batting isn’t thick enough to be very substantial, though it’s still helpful to insulate more than if I had nothing there, so I’m leaving them hanging until I have time to sew up the three layers. If you were to use two layers of batting, you could cut small slits a couple of inches down from the top, several slits along the top, creating a row of slits where you can insert the curtain rod. If I didn’t have batting and were going to buy material, I would buy fleece (at 50% off) that matched each room and do the same thing. Fleece doesn’t need any hemming and all you would have to do is cut the fabric in the shape of the window, cut the slits, and hang it up. That would probably take under 10 minutes per window. I’d strongly suggest a light colored fabric, to let the light in. The idea of rooms that are dark seems depressing to me, even if they’re toasty and warm.
Here’s a link to an article that I read in the summer that first got me thinking about this:
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Modern-Homesteading/1983-11-01/The-Homemade-Thermal-Shade.aspx. I’ve made my own design that I think is simpler and cut the costs down involved, but their directions are much more detailed than mine, and you can get an idea of the basic concept and see if it is something that would work for you.
After the first night, my 12 yo daughter, who sleeps next to the window in her room that we put the first quilt on, told me she was noticeably warmer. I asked her how she could tell a difference, and she said usually she doesn’t want to get out from under her covers in the morning, and this time it was fine. I made this on Wednesday, and since I was out all day yesterday, I haven’t yet made one for the other window in their room. She told me there’s a noticeable difference when she stands in front of each of the two windows in temperature and she definitely thinks I should cover all the windows like this.