I have to confess—I never used to appreciate curtains…until now. This, of course, was because I always assumed mini blinds did the same job equally well. And since every casa I've moved into over the last decade has come with blinds pre-installed, it has only been recently that I've had a chance to rekindle my love affair with curtains. Read on to find out how I’ve saved on curtains—and how curtains can help you save on your bottom line!
Meet the modern curtain!
Gone are the days when your only options for curtains were decorative filmy lacy things your grandma crocheted. Today's curtains have some meat on their bonds—and can multi-task with the best of 'em!
Meet today's cash-saving power curtains:
- Insulated curtains (sometimes called "thermal curtains"). Insulated curtains can do four things, depending on the season: keep the cold out/in, and keep the heat out/in. These are great curtains to use if you have that one room that gets that direct hit of sunlight twice per day in the warm months but is freezing cold in winter.
- Blackout curtains. Blackout curtains are perhaps my all-time favorite – they are the budget gal's alternative to those pricey remote-controlled curtains you see in James Bond films. Basically they keep your room dark until you want it to be otherwise. These are great curtains if you have a light-sensitive sleeper in your household (or a daily napper who can't settle down when it's light out!)
- Dual-purpose curtains. These curtains do both – they are blackout AND insulated curtains! (These are my favorites.)
How curtains can save you cash
You can probably think of a few ways curtains might save you cash on your energy bills right off the top of your head. Here are some Department of Energy statistics to back that up!
- Installation matters! If your curtains hang at a distance from your windows, you stand to lose up to 25% of your heating/cooling efficiency. For best results, hang your curtains close to the windows, let them fall all the way to the floor, and do your best to "seal" them against the windows' exterior edges.
- Color matters! Curtains of a medium color with white plastic on the back (the side that faces the street) can cut heat loss in winter and cool loss in summer by up to 33%.
- Closed curtains matter! Closing curtains tightly at night in winter months can reduce heat loss by up to 10%. But be sure to open them again during the day to let in all the warming sunlight you can.
3 Easy ways to save cash on curtains now
Now—what you've been waiting for—here are some tips to find the best deals on the curtains that will save you money all year long.
1. Head to Target (or Kohl’s or JC Penney or Walmart).
I got four full sets of insulated blackout curtains (the best of all worlds) at Target by shopping in the kids section – $19.99 for one floor-length curtain. I live in a vintage house (1920s) so my windows don't have curtain rods. I picked up adjustable rods for all four windows for $1.99 each.
- My total cost: $79.96 (4 curtains) + $7.96 (4 curtain rods) = $87.92 – 5% off (Target REDCard) = $83.52 total
You can also find the grown-up version for cheap here:
- Kohl's online sale page (curtains start at $14.99 per set)
- JCPenney's online sale page (curtains start at $15.99 and some sets are 40-50% off)
- Walmart's online sale page (curtains start at $7.97!)
2. Hang cheaper curtains over existing mini-blinds (if available), then insulate the window itself for cheap.
The Department of Energy states that layering window treatments is an effective way to cut energy bill costs. So if your budget won't stretch to cover the energy-efficient curtains you have your eye on and you already have blinds (like most homes do today), go ahead and buy cheaper curtains and keep your mini-blinds in place. Then insulate the window underneath for extra savings.
How to insulate a window yourself on the cheap:
- You have material options—all cheap: bubble wrap, cardboard, fabric liner, batting.
- Cut the material to fit: cut your chosen material to be just wider than the length and width of the window itself (for bubble wrap, make sure the bubble side faces the street).
- Secure it to the window: for fabric/batting/cardboard, you will want to use packing tape or double-sided tape to secure it over the edges of the window. For bubble wrap, spraying water on the glass will adhere it firmly to the glass until you’re ready to remove it.
3. Look for energy certified curtains—and you can qualify for a credit at tax time!
Some curtains are now certified by their manufacturers as "energy efficient" (this is not the same as Energy Star®, but the manufacturer does issue a certification document that comes with your curtains at the time of purchase).
According to the Energy Star® website, this certification document qualifies you to take the energy savings tax credit for home improvements.
- Resource: Energy Star article on tax credits
- Resource: IRS guidelines to save up to 30% of the cost of improvements at tax time