Finding the best window treatments for your home

Affordable Drapes and Curtains

by Debra Karplus

Related Articles

Spruce Up Your Home for Less!

Inexpensive Area Rugs

Updating Plastic Vertical Blinds

You just moved into a new home or maybe your current decor needs a bit of a makeover. Possibly you simply want to make your place more energy efficient. The right window treatments can liven up an otherwise dull-looking room, and they have the ability to save money on home heating if selected properly. Window treatments are defined as any interior decoration on or around a window. Though most people interchange the words "drape" and "curtain, differentiates the two. Draperies are generally heavier, sometimes lined, and often more expensive than curtains, which sometimes include sheers and valences. Vertical or horizontal blinds and window shades are also window treatments. So how do you begin sprucing up your lackluster or leaky windows in an affordable way?

Knowing the specifications of what you want to buy is your first step.

Measure the length and width of the window area that you want covered. Standard lengths of curtains and drapes are 45 inches, 63 inches, 84 inches, 95 inches, and 108 inches. Then determine the width of the window and see what width curtain or drape is recommended. Be careful when buying drapes as they often come in packages of one panel, typically 42 inches. For most windows, you will need two. Longer drapery panels typically cost more than shorter ones. For example, at Kohl's, one darkening panel on a relatively inexpensive grommet top drapery that is 50 inches wide is $44.99 for 63-inch length, $49.99 for 84-inch length, $54.99 for 95-inch length, and $64.99 for 108-inch length. Patio doors are a special consideration. You can get two drapery panels at 52 inches wide or one extra wide 104-inch panel that will move to the side when you want the patio door exposed.

Also pay attention to the top in terms of how that drape or curtain will be hung. Curtains often have a pocket that a lightweight rod goes through. Drapes have several additional options such as pleats for which you will need special drapery hooks and a traverse rod or grommets that require a rod that's much wider in diameter.

You may be surprised at the many colors from which to choose. Your choice of browns, for example, is greater than the crayons in a box of 64! Wheat, cappuccino, coffee, and chocolate are all different shades of brown. When you are shopping for draperies, try to bring something from your room like throw pillows, so you can select an appropriate color.

Many drapes claim to be energy efficient or blackout. Be sure they really are!

Some drapes really can lower your heating and cooling bills because they truly are energy efficient. Typically, these panels are lined with thermal or insulated materials. If you search online or ask an expert, an answer as to how much energy is actually saved on truly energy efficient panels will be difficult to pin down.

Don't take the term "energy efficient" at face value because many panels make this claim, but if you hold them up to a sunny window, you will discover that they neither block out light nor tone down the heat from the sun. According to, regular curtains or drapes will not be energy saving at all. "Energy efficient" may simply mean that hanging that drape makes your room more energy efficient than it would be with no window treatment.

Buying items online can certainly be a time saver, but when selecting window treatments, it might be too much of a challenge to find what you want. If you do buy window treatments online, be sure to know their return policy.

Vertical or horizontal blinds are trendy and versatile and give your room just the pizzazz it needs. However, blinds can be difficult to keep clean, especially if your room tends to get dirty from something like a fireplace. Talk to people that you know who have blinds on their windows to see if they are a good option for your room.

Shop home improvement for great prices at

Take your time selecting a curtain or drapery rod.

Buy your rod when you are selecting your curtain or drape. Be sure it is the correct length across the window. Buying one that adjusts to the width you desire may cost more, but it may make it easier to get the desired width. Also be sure the diameter of the rod is appropriate; drapes with grommets will need the wider rod.

Also be sure the rod can support the weight of the drape. A real energy efficient drape that is lined is generally heavier and needs a sturdier rod, often one with two brackets for the ends and also one for the middle.

You will discover a range of colors for rods, such as nickel or bronze. Expect to pay anywhere from about $15 to $45, depending on the size of your drapery rod and how decorative it is.

Your room will look quite different with new window treatments. Take your time when shopping for curtains and drapes.

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

Take the Next Step:

  • Looking for simple, practical, hands-on home decorating help? If so, then Love Your Home is the perfect ebook for you!
  • Make sure you're not overpaying on your mortgage. If you haven't looked for a lower mortgage rate in the past year, use our simple tool that compares different lenders to see what your monthly mortgage payment could be. It's private, only takes a minute and could show you how to save thousands!

Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.

Stay Connected with TDS

Little Luxuries

to the Dollar Stretcher newsletter and get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Debt Book