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Thermal Curtains vs Cellular Shades: Best Choice for Energy Efficiency

31 Dec 2023 0 Comments
Thermal Curtains vs Cellular Shades: Best Choice for Energy Efficiency

Choosing the right window treatments for your home is an important decision that affects both energy efficiency and aesthetics. The two most popular options for insulating window coverings are thermal curtains and cellular shades. But what exactly sets these two types of treatments apart?

This guide will provide a comprehensive comparison of thermal curtains and cellular shades. We will examine how both options work to improve temperature control, evaluate their respective pros and cons, and help you determine which is the better choice based on your individual needs and style preferences.

Proper window coverings can help reduce energy bills while also elevating the visual appeal of your space.

Key Takeaways

  • Cellular shades rate higher for energy efficiency; thermal curtains provide good insulation at lower cost
  • Thermal curtains come in endless style options; cellular shades offer streamlined, contemporary aesthetic
  • Curtains require frequent care and cleaning; shades resist dust and damage better long-term
  • For max insulation and style, layer curtains over cellular shades based on time of day
  • Dolcewe offer custom size service for high-quality thermal curtains, starting at $26.99

Understanding Thermal Curtains

thermal curtain enhancing home energy efficiency

Thermal curtains, sometimes called insulated curtains, are made of fabrics designed to improve insulation and keep heat or cold from escaping out of your windows.

The best thermal curtains have a layered construction, with a heavy fabric facing the window and a lighter insulating fabric behind it.

The thickness of a quality thermal curtain blocks drafts and improves the window's R-value. Many thermal curtains feature blackout linings as well to block light and create an additional barrier between your home and the exterior elements. Thermal curtains come in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and styles to match any decor.

How Do Thermal Drapes Work?

Thermal curtains create a still layer of air between the curtain fabric and your window to prevent heat transfer. The layered fabric also provides additional insulation as it traps air within the fibers. Good thermal curtains have densities of 400 gsm (grams per square meter) or higher.

The precise functioning can vary slightly depending on the number of curtain layers and quality of the insulating fabric:

  • Double-layer thermal curtains use a dense outside layer to block drafts, while a lighter thermal lining helps capture and hold in heat.

  • Triple-layer thermal curtains add another layer of fabric for even more insulation. The third layer helps further prevent both cold and warm air from escaping.

In winter, the still air pockets capture and recirculate heat radiating from your heating system. In summer, the curtains reflect sunlight and keep your rooms cooler. Optional blackout linings provide additional insulation from sunlight.

Overall, the barrier created by a quality thermal curtain improves your window's energy efficiency rating significantly. Thermal curtains are an affordable way to reduce heating and cooling costs compared to replacing your windows entirely.

Advantages of thermal insulation drapes

  • Cost-effective way to increase insulation
  • Come in many attractive styles and colors
  • Offer customizable levels of light filtering
  • Softer visual appearance than many shades
  • Provide excellent insulation and draft blocking

Potential disadvantages of thermal curtains Window Treatment

  • Can appear messy if left fully open
  • Fabrics move with any air circulation
  • Loose curtain panels may require professional cleaning
  • Not as effective at trapping air as cellular shades
Feature Benefit
Thermal Insulation Reduces heat loss, contributing to a warmer living environment and lower energy expenses
Design Variety Mix and match with your existing decor for a harmonious look, or redefine a space with a bold new pattern
Blackout Capability Some thermal curtains double as blackout curtains, providing darkness when needed for a restful sleep or to block unwanted light

Understanding Cellular Shades Window Covering

Energy Efficient Cellular Shades

Cellular shades, also known as honeycomb shades, utilize a unique cellular construction to provide excellent insulation for windows. Cellular shades get their name from the honeycomb-like cells that make up the structure of the shade fabric.

The distinct cells trap air to create small insulation pockets between the window and the room. Cellular shades are primarily made from fabric but can also be constructed out of pleated vinyl or other materials. They come in various opacity levels, including room-darkening and blackout options.

How Do Cellular Shades Work?

The rows of hollow cells give cellular shades outstanding insulating properties. As heat tries to escape through the window, it gets trapped inside the cells. The dead air space makes heat transfer more difficult. Proper-fitting cellular shades help create a thermal barrier between indoor and outdoor temperatures.

Cellular shades' precise construction can vary based on the size of the cells and number of cell layers:

  • Single cell shades have one layer of large bubbled cells. They still provide good insulation but are the least energy efficient option.

  • Double cell shades reduce the cell size to trap more heat. Double cell shades can insulate nearly as well as most triple cell shades.

  • Triple cell shades use three layers of the smallest cells to create the highest insulation rating. However, triple cell shades have a lower visible light transmission.

Cellular shades also come in a variety of opaque fabrics, colors, and lifting systems. You can control light filtering and privacy while also insulating your windows. Overall, cellular shades' exceptional R-value makes them one of the best energy-efficient window covering options.

Benefits of blackout cellular shades

  • High energy efficiency: Reduces heat loss by up to 40% in winters and cuts down solar heat gain by up to 60% in summers.
  • Sleek appearance: They offer a smooth, contemporary look that blends effortlessly with a range of interior styles.
  • Unique cell structure for temperature control: The honeycomb design provides superior insulation compared to traditional window blinds.

Potential drawbacks of honeycomb shades

  • More expensive upfront cost than curtains
  • Difficult to adjust cells once expanded
  • Limited color and fabric options compared to drapes
  • Cells prone to damage and dirt accumulation
  • Can be tricky to properly measure and install
Product Insulation Efficiency Light Control Design Options
Standard Cellular Shades High Variable Limited
Cordless Cellular Shades High Good Moderate
Motorized Cellular Shades Excellent Excellent Wide
Blackout Cellular Shades Excellent Maximum Moderate

Comparing Thermal Insulate Curtains and Cellular Window Shades

Energy Efficient Window Treatment Options

Evaluating curtains against shades in critical areas like efficiency, cost, visual appeal, and maintenance will help determine the best choice.

Energy Efficiency

When it comes to saving energy, cellular shades are the clear winner over standard curtains. However, thermal curtains provide much better insulation than typical drapes.

Cellular shades have insulation ratings as high as R-7 thanks to their multi-layer construction trapping so much air. The score makes them one of the most efficient window coverings available. Most thermal curtains range between R-1 to R-3 ratings.

That said, a good thermal curtain can match or even surpass some single cell cellular shades in efficiency. But double and triple cell shades are still ahead in heat retention.

Ultimately, Energy Star recommends getting the highest rating possible for your climate. Cellular shades edge out curtains overall for energy savings, but both are great options over uncovered windows.


In terms of price and investment, basic curtains tend to be more budget-friendly than cellular shades. But thermal curtains close this gap with their specialized construction.

Adding a thermal insulation layer increases the base cost of curtains closer to certain cellular shades. Double and triple shades still range on the more expensive end overall.

You can also find excellent deals on all types of window treatments during various sales. When factoring in energy savings over time, both curtains and shades pay for themselves through reduced power bills.

Here is a general pricing overview:

  • Basic curtains - $10 to $30 per panel
  • Thermal Curtains - $30 to $60 per panel
  • Single Cell Shades - $60 to $150 per window
  • Double Cell Shades - $100 to $250 per window

Measure your windows carefully before purchasing to achieve the best fit and savings possible. Investing in quality materials also helps ensure the longest product lifespan.

At Dolcewe, all our thermal curtains are sold as single panels, starting at $26.99. 


Besides efficiency, aesthetics are crucial in choosing window treatments to match your home’s style. Here is how the visual appeal of curtains and shades compares:

Curtains make a graceful, elegant statement with their flowing fabric panels. You can find curtain styles and patterns to match any room. But curtains appear messy when opened during the day.

Cellular shades have a clean, uniform look thanks to neat rows of evenly sized cells. The honeycomb structure looks best with modern or contemporary decor. Colors are more limited than curtains though.

Thermal curtains and shades both come in various opacities. Sheer versions let in ambient light when privacy isn’t essential. Thick, multilayered blackout versions block all light for media rooms and bedrooms.

Determine whether a bold prints and textures of curtains or the clean lines of structured shades fit your space better. Combine both treatments for improved efficiency and aesthetics.


All window treatments require some degree of care and maintenance. Thermal curtains need a bit more upkeep than cellular shades when it comes to keeping them looking their best.

Thermal curtains tend to wrinkle and collect dust more thanks to all the loose hanging fabric. Frequent steaming or ironing may be necessary. The layered construction also makes professional cleaning a good idea to prevent damage, especially for delicate or expensive drapes.

Cellular shades don’t wrinkle or sag, so they tend to keep their shape and appearance better over time. The fabricated cells also repel dust more than fabrics. But the cells are prone to dirt buildup in crevices as well as dents and holes if mishandled. Spot clean only.

You’ll need to handle both curtains and shades gently when adjusting or moving them. Make sure you have proper clearance around air vents or radiators so heat can still escape around the edges. Improper installation can diminish efficiency and lead to safety hazards.

Overall, cellular shades require less frequent care to maintain their insulation value and appearance. But thermal curtains aren’t overly demanding with some minor upkeep.

Final Thoughts

There is no definitive “best” option when choosing between thermal curtains vs cellular shades. Prioritize your most important factors, whether cost, efficiency, appearance or ease of care. Thermal curtains and shades both improve insulation substantially over bare windows.

Consult a design expert if you need help determining the right window treatments for your particular climate and living space layout. Properly installed shades and curtains can significantly reduce your energy costs while elevating the visual flow.

Shop Custom Thermal Curtains at Dolcewe

At Dolcewe, we take pride in specializing in bespoke window treatments that combine style with energy efficiency. Our custom thermal curtains are meticulously crafted to fit the unique measurements of your windows, ensuring a snug fit that is sure to reduce your energy bill.

Getting the custom fit right, whether curtains or roman shades, means no gaps or air leaks around the edges. So you can be confident our window treatments will make your rooms more comfortable while lowering costs

With prices starting at just $26.99, our custom window treatments are not only accessible but also a smart choice for insulating your home.

Custom Size For Perfect Fit, Starting $26.99

We understand that the secret to an effective window covering lies in the perfect fit. That's why we offer curtains in various fabrics, each designed to provide the best insulation for your living space.

Custom size for all curtains ensures that every inch of your window frame is covered, translating into significant energy savings and an enchanting enhancement to your room's ambiance.

With a made-to-measure approach, our curtains are tailored specifically for your windows to keep your home insulated.

Shop Today - Extra 10% Off First Order & Free Shipping $199

Dive into Dolcewe's stunning assortment and take advantage of an extra 10% off your first order. Plus, delight in the convenience of free shipping on orders over $199.

Choose our thermal curtains today and relish the dual benefits of a stylish home and reduced energy costs.

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