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Using Blackout Curtains In A Home

Updated on September 8, 2010

Blackout curtains were originally designed to keep light from escaping a house during times of war in order to prevent enemy bombers from detecting targets from the air. Now, in relatively peaceful times, these window treatments are used to prevent light from entering a house or room. Not only do they block out the transmission of light, but they can also help to reduce energy bills.

These kinds of drapes are constructed to prevent light from entering a room. During the manufacturing process, special blackout fabric is used to create the curtains. This fabric is thick and heavy with a weave so tight that light cannot penetrate the tiny holes. Depending on the manufacturer, sometimes several layers of fabric are used to increase the effectiveness of the drapery. Not only this, but some of these window treatments are coated with rubber or a plastic layer to create a completely opaque barrier between the window and the room.

Blackout drapes are commonly used by people who have unusual work hours that force them to sleep during the day, which may disturb their sleep. Others may use these draperies if they live in close quarters in large cities where traffic and bright lights can interfere with sleeping patterns. In addition to creating a suitable sleeping environment, opaque window treatments are often used in home theater and entertainment rooms. Ambient light from windows can reduce the picture quality of projector screens and televisions, creating glares and washed out colors. Blocking out light with drapes creates the perfect, dark environment for watching the latest movies and television shows in a media room. Not only do these window treatments block out light, but they can also reduce the level of sounds. Created from thick, heavy fabric, these curtains can absorb noises coming from the outside as well as sounds from the entertainment room. Opaque shades are also used in photography dark rooms where any light entering the room can prevent photographs from developing properly.

Window treatments that block light completely can also help to reduce energy bills. The windows of a house act as a greenhouse, allowing heat and light in, but not letting it escape. According to some industry studies, using these kinds of curtains can result in energy savings of up to 25% annually. The thick fabric also insulates windows, which are a major source of air leaks that can make a heater or air conditioner run more than necessary.

Opaque window treatments are only effective if they are properly installed. In order to minimize light leakage from the edges of the drapery, the curtain rod needs to be placed significantly higher than the height of the window and the bar needs to be wider than the window's width. Most of these curtains are made to drape on the floor slightly to block light from entering from the bottom of the drapes.

For people who need a restful night's sleep or want to create a home theater, using blackout curtains can envelope a room in total darkness, creating the perfect environment for their needs.

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