A few weeks ago, when I said I was unaware of any plans for low-cost energy-saving window draperies which a householder could easily sew and hang, I found out just how wrong I was.
Indeed, not only are there numerous opportunities to make your own "energy drapes," but an abundance of plans are availabe as well.
For example, the New York State College of Human Ecology, based at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. 14853, has a three- page pamphlet entitled "Energy Saving Window Treatments." It lists not only the required materials but the step-by-step directions, including diagrams.
Another pamphlet was adapted from information prepared by the Connecticut Energy Conservation Service.
"Our Rensselaer city cooperative had a series, three nights, to inform and help people make these (and other) items," writes Gertrude L. Meeson of Troy, N.Y.
One reader writes that her son-in-law "had made a frame around a piece of foam which was covered on both sides with material to match the decor of the room." She continues: "These frames fit tightly into the window frame and are easily pulled out in the daytime by a small tab attached to the frame."
Ann W. Davis of Newfields, N.H., writes: "Window quilts can indeed be made at home. I am knee-deep in the project, having attended a couple of talks by Ruth Stimson, home economist for the Rockingham County Extension Service in Epping, N.H. Phone: (603) 679-5616."
Mrs. Davis tells of buying a 75-cent pamphlet, "Do-It-Yourself Energy-Saving Window Treatments," prepared by Dorothy C. O'Donnell and published by the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of New Hampshire.
"AFter we put our first window quilt in place (sealed to the window frame by Velcro), a thermometer between the glass and the curtain registered 28 degrees while the interior temperature was only 60 degrees. I estimate the cost at about $25 per curtain."
Another reader, Jo Yount of Port Townsend, Wash., asserts: "As the owner- builder of a solar house put up in 1977, I have been following the market on insulated window covers for some time and have experimented with various types. An excellent resource is "Movable Insulation," by William K. Landon and published by Rodale Press of Emmaus, Pa., 18049. The cost is $9.95. Rodale also offers a $14.95 book on how to make an insulated roller shade."
Directions for another alternative, a homemade insulated Roman shade, can be obtained from Window Warmers, Creative Energy Products, 1053 Williamson Street, Madison, Wis. 53703. The material needed to make the design costs $1.95 a square foot, Mrs. Yount writes.
"We discovered the Window Warmer kit just as we were devising a pre-quilted fabric for sewing insulated Roman shades which are sealed to the window edge with magmetic tape. We fell that our price of $12 a year (44 inches wide) is competitive with everything else on the market. It is much easier to sew than when one tries to put all the layers together for oneself, although that route is less expensive if one doesn't add in the labor."
Mrs. Yount says she will be happy to mail information to people in other parts of the country if they will write to The Warm Window, 8061 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, Wash 98115. Phone: (206) 527-5094.
The extension of service of the University of Rhode Island also has complete detailed directions for making energy-saving window draperies as do other university extension servives around the country, notes Mrs. Edwin H. Hastings of Warwick, R.I.
The Rhode Island pamphlet is entitled "Window quilt Construction," and the eastern district office is on York Avenue, Newport, R.I. 02840.
Mrs. Janice North of Blue Point N.Y., writes: "We had thought about the matter quite a long time and read all kinds of material on the subject. It seemed as if something which was fitted as close to the window as possible was most effective, but the shades led to a dead end in that direction.
"Also, we like the curtains we have and were not interested in replacing them with insulated draperies.
"The solution we have some up with its very easy and very cheap! I happened to have some old woolen blankets and the same color as our curtain. I cut them to fit the windows and used spring-style curtain rods to keep them in place.
"Every night I put them up as close to the glass as possible, and with the curtain drawn one is completely unaware of them. However, we notice the house is cozier and quieter. From the outside one can still see lights on; and although the effect is not that of gathered curtains, it is not too unsightly. For five windows -- about $12."
Mrs. North says they already have storm windows but apparently a third layer is more effective than one might think.
The University of Maryland's cooperative extension service in College Park, Md., also has a pamphlet on insulated drapery liners which can be made at home. Full sewing instructions are included.
So there it is. There is more than one way to tighten up those windows and keep the cold air where it belongs -- outside the house.
Our readers' response to this column is indeed gratifying.