Baby, It's Cold Outside! You Need Energy-Efficient Window Treatments

Did you know that 25-35% of your home’s heating energy is lost through your windows? That kind of expense is likely to jack up your next energy bill if you’re hitting a cold snap. Hence, why it’s so important to winter-proof your home with window treatments. Of course, not just any type of covering will do. The most energy-efficient window treatments are the ones that minimize heat transfer. Put another way, they keep the warm air in and the bitter cold where it belongs – in the winter wonderland outside.

Everhem linen drapery in neutral gray tone hangs open in modern master bedroom

Are You Familiar With R-Value?

To get a better understanding of how energy-efficient window treatments work, we have to talk a little bit more about heat transfer. The transfer of heat is measured in R-value. This number describes how much heat flows from one side of a barrier to another. An R-value can be applied to any number of building materials. In your home, R-value primarily pertains to your walls, windows and ceiling. However, window treatments can also have an R-value. When it comes to measuring R-value, a higher number signifies a better insulator.

As a point of reference, your home’s walls probably have an R-value of R-19. A standard residential roof, on the other hand, is closer to R-30 or R-40, illustrating that your roof is thicker and better at preventing heat loss. (As it should be!)

Now, you might be wondering what the average R-value is for window treatments. It should come as no surprise that these barriers don’t have nearly as high an R-value as your walls or roof. Depending on which type of window treatments you choose and how you install them, you can expect anywhere between an R-1.05 and R-10.

Two Stylish, Energy-Efficient Window Treatments for Winter

On the higher end of the R-value spectrum are shutters that feature an insulating core, vapor retarder sheath and a decorative covering. While all those layers do create a thicker blockade, this may not create the most attractive aesthetic. Not to worry, though. You can have energy-efficient window treatments without sacrificing style. Here are our top picks:

Close-up of Everhem linen blend drapery as energy-efficient window treatments for the winter

1.   Drapery

Drapery, in the most basic sense, is a piece of fabric hanging over your windows. As you know if you’ve ever curled up on the couch with a throw blanket, fabric is very effective at keeping you warm. In fact, most drapes can reduce heat loss by up to 10% in a warm room, according to, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) consumer resource on saving energy.

To get even greater benefit, the DOE recommends hanging your drapes as close to the windows as possible and to let them fall all the way to the floor. They also suggest two panels of fabric are better than one, especially if the panels can overlap a bit. This will allow for a tighter seal around the window and maximum heat protection.

Ordering custom drapery will ensure you get the best fit for your windows. At Everhem, we offer tips on how to measure windows for drapery and hardware. With that information, we can create the most energy-efficient window treatments for your home.

2.   Roman Shades

When choosing window treatments based on your home’s style, you might fall in love with Roman shades – and rightfully so. These pull-down window coverings can be dressed up or down to complement the tone of your room. Roman shades can also be very energy-efficient window treatments, thanks to the structure of the fabric and how close it hangs in front of the glass.

For windows with at least one inch of depth, you can inside mount your Roman shades. An inside mount installation positions the fabric almost flush to the window pane. That said, outside mounting works fine, as well. There are two main reasons you would choose outside mount window shades, one of which is to create privacy. Depending on the size of your window and any wood molding around it, an outside mount might give you a better seal from your nosy neighbors, from natural sunlight and from the winter elements.

How to Enhance Your Energy-Efficient Window Treatments

If one layer of fabric can help keep you warm, you would think two layers must be even warmer, right? Indeed, adding a layer of fabric does make your window treatments more effective insulators. Remember those shutters with multiple sheaths and coverings that came in at R-10 on the value scale? The thicker, the better.

Close-up of Everhem blackout lining on linen drapes boosts these energy efficient window treatments

The good news is you can apply this same concept to your drapery and Roman shades by simply adding a blackout lining. A blackout lining is just as it sounds: an extra piece of fabric that is cut and sewn to your window covering. Everhem offers lining options for all of its window treatments (except sheers) in case you need the privacy for a nursery design or the protection for a cold winter.

Another way to enhance the R-value of your energy-efficient window treatments is to adjust the installation. According to researchers at Cornell University, drapery with a lining can be up to 25% effective at reducing heat loss (versus 10% when there is no lining) if you follow these winterizing steps:

  • Close the top of your drapes, using a cornice or other temporary solution.
  • Seal both sides with Velcro, double-sided tape or decorative tie-backs.
  • Allow the drapes to kiss the floor.
  • Pull the drapes shut with a four-inch overlap at the center.

The same researchers discovered that Roman shades can be 60-75% effective at reducing heat loss if you simply install a couple wood clamps on either side of your window. They suggest small, hinged wood clamps, which would only be engaged when your Roman shades are pulled down. This simple change can increase your lined Roman shades’ R-value to approximately 4.0, which is greater than Venetian blinds and roller shades.  

In some cases you might consider adding both Roman shades and drapery. Doubling up is an especially smart strategy for large window coverings. But no matter what you choose for energy-efficient window treatments, it’s important that your home looks as good as it feels. At Everhem, we take pride in the quality of our fabric and hardware. We have searched the world over to find the finest linen and linen blends. We are certain our custom drapes and shades will not only warm your home, but will win your heart.