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Embroidery quilt

Window quilts are a low-tech solution to energy efficiency in a high-tech 21st century, cutting your energy bills and save you money. Here’s how to get started.

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I was visiting a friend last week. A large expanse of windows showed off our breathtaking mountain scenery. At the top of each window was a cloth shade that had been rolled up. They looked like individual, custom-made quilts.

I asked where he got them, and he said they were home made many years ago. I was hoping to buy some!

So I set about to find similar window quilts, but I didn’t mind the thought of making them.

Energy savers

Bare windows let almost half of your heat out in winter. And the colder the weather outside, the faster the warm air moves out!

Any sort of window covering helps reduce heat loss, but the layers and air pockets of quilted fabric create some of the best resistance to air movement. By covering your windows, you will raise your indoor temperatures a very noticeable few degrees. That means you will also save on your heating bills.

Utilitarian window quilts

If you google ‘window quilts’, you will find very drab and utilitarian shades that, to me, look like quilted picnic tablecloths. They are stored on a roll in a cornice or box above the window. The side trim of the windows has tracks that the quilt is guided through as it is pulled down, to create a tight seal. It is sealed at the sill, too.

Blocking off and sealing the entire window is the way to save energy and keep your house warm. Because these are inside the frame, they do not interfere with curtains or drapes, which add another layer of insulation.

But this was not what I was looking for. I wanted a soft, warm ‘n’ fuzzy look, not a cold, stiff, utilitarian look.

Winter Blanket Quilt and Wardrobe

Custom window quilts

Some design companies will make window quilts for you. They provide the components, and you provide measurements. Get fabric swatches before making a decision. Web and catalog representations are not always accurate. Find out how the quilts are made and how they are installed. Ask questions! If you have a brick and mortar store that does this, have them come to your house and make recommendations. Take your time. You are making a big investment!

If you are crafty, you can buy quilted shades minus the fabric covering, and add your own for one-of-a-kind décor. Warm Window is one such company. The insulated system they sell contains layers of polyester batting and a vapor barrier, which eliminates condensation. On the website, there are six designs to choose from and an instructional video. It is sold in fabric stores and online craft stores.

Homemade window quilts

If you know how to make a quilt or even sew a bit, you can make your own shades. This will cost much less if you are on a budget, and your home will be more a reflection of who you are. Fabric choices, patchwork, and embellishments will make your window coverings unique!

The basics are the same – front fabric, backing fabric, and batting. A vapor barrier should be added for the coldest climates to reduce condensation. By using quilted fabric for the front, you will add an extra layer of insulation.

Machine or hand quilting will put holes in the fabric where warm air can reach the window. Tying the final product will cut down on that heat loss.

Secure the quilt to the window trim with hook and loop tape on the trim and the back side of the quilt for a tight and draft-free fit. The quilt can have a small dowel or piece of furring at the bottom, and be raised and lowered with small pulleys and drapery cord. Alternatively, rings can be sewn on at regular intervals for a folded, Roman shade appearance when raised.

A good investment

Quilts keep us warm at night, because of the air pockets in the various layers. That same principle can be applied to your windows to stay warm.

Whether you opt for store bought to homemade window quilts, you will save energy, natural resources, and money. Window quilts are a good investment, and will pay you back in warmth and savings.

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.