What You Learn from the Russians about Staying Warm at Home

baby it's cold outside etsy
‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’, Etsy print
  • Simple ways to reduce air draft from the windows
  • How to make your fabric draperies work for your money
  • Why choosing the right lining helps to keep you warm in the house
  • Best window shades  for saving energy
  • Budget shopping list to keep you warm this winter

Winter process of making windows “warm” was something that I witnessed in Russia back in the day when no one heard about 25-40% energy bill savings, the cost of drafty windows. We just saved on everything, including energy bills.

At the beginning of November, my Russian grandmother commanded  that all the windows be  sealed with a cheap, special  paper. Also, we used rolled newspaper as draft stoppers. And for those that worshiped decor and design it was cotton balls stuffed between the glass and decorated with some glitter and plastic toys. It was ugly but did the job keeping us warm. After so many years, you can still use the same principles inherited from the Russian grandmothers and tweak them to your taste and decor. So, if your energy bill is high and your home is still not warm enough, consider more simple ways to protect yourself from the cold before you get involved in indexes and ratings of the new windows.

1. Draft stoppers. Here are some ways to make your windows warm this winter.

Make a draft stopper by following the technique as described in The Little House in the City blog post.

Draft Stopper
DIY Draft Stopper


Buy a draft stopper if you prefer a ready made option.


Luxury Draft Stopper

This draft stopper or door snake has been handmade by me from a beautiful fabric. Woven Cotton Silk are strong fabrics and can hold and contain up-to Velcro with ease. Silk made draft stoppers add tons of luxury and personalized style to your room and floor. Cost $14.99.

 2. Fabric Draperies. How to make your fabric draperies work for your money by reducing air leaks.
To make your draperies work for your money you need to think about creating a window envelope so that there is a minimum amount of air leaks.  Fabric draperies that open and close covering the whole window are ideal.
Here is how to calculate fabric width so that they open and close and the folds still look good.

width calculation
Drapery Width Calculation
  • Know the exact width of your fabric. If you made a drapery panel exactly as wide as your window, it would be flat as a sheet. If you like draperies to form soft folds,  you need to know how to calculate the fabric width to make sure that both panels close in the middle without compromising the look. A typical fullness measurement is 2-1/2 times.  This means the drapery panel will be made with fabric 2-1/2 times as wide as window width.


  • Add fabric for returns (sides) of the drapery. Make sure that your draperies are designed with a side return. It is usually 4-5  inches. They have to be as close to the wall as possible to minimize air leaks.The length has to be all the way to the floor. For maximum effectiveness install a cornice at the top of a drapery to close the “envelope”.
  • Lining: How to use lining to make your window draperies work for your money. Use thermal lining on the back of the draperies. Fabric draperies with factory made thermal lining were beyond our dreams in Russia. If they were desired, they became a part of another DIY project. However, England is known for beautiful draperies with thermal lining and interlining. When replacement windows were not an option these interlinings came into being. It was so unique to the American tourists that  they ended up creating a demand for heavy  interlinings in America. They serve not only to keep the cold out and the heat in the homes, but also a good lining and interlining creates elegant style that you will love.
Types of LIning

Kasmir Fabrics.com – Types of Lining

1. Enhance A step up from regular cotton lining. Excellent alternative if interlining is not in a budget. If combined with Interlining, it is reported to have 80% improvement in R-value over unlined draperies. Cost $9 – $11/per yard.
2. Interlining is versatile, economical and works well with most treatments and styles adding body & weight. Cost $7 – $9/per yard.
3. Fusion Sateen 50% cotton– 50% polyester with a fused interlining on the back. Excellent thermal and noise insulation. Cost $13 – $15/per yard.
4. Flannel is heavier than regular interlining, adding even more body and weight to your treatments. Cost $7 – $9/per yard
Note: Other resources for window treatments lining are Angel’s Drapery Lining as well as  Amazon.

3. Window shades for saving energy

Window shades can be one of the simplest and most effective window treatments for saving energy. Shades should be mounted as close to the glass as possible to establish a sealed air space.

Honeycomb shades are known for making a difference in energy savings.

Duette® Architella® Honeycomb Shades

Duette® Architella® shades by Hunter Douglas help insulate homes and reduce energy consumption. It is reported that due to their patented honeycomb-within-a-honeycomb construction. Vignette® Tiered™ Architella® Shades by Hunter Douglas features rear fabric air pockets that trap air and create an extra layer of insulation. Average cost is quite expensive.

Budget shopping to keep warm at home this winter

If custom energy efficient window treatments are not in your budget, there are some ready-made affordable options to consider.

Curtainworks energy savings draperies and curtains provide many options for fabrics with thermal and light control. Some of the benefits include light filtration and room darkening as well as energy savings. Average cost for a pair of drapery panels varies between $20 – $40.
Warm Window® System by Cozy Curtains. According to the manufacturer’s description, Warm Windows system consists of several layers that are designed to reduce the flow of energy through the window glass. The final layer that faces the room is a decorative fabric that you choose.
More simple tips  to stay warm at home

  • Keep all the doors to the rooms that you do not use closed.The most draft comes from the garage, so keeping the door closed will help prevent the cold air from moving into the rest of the house.
  • Close any unused rooms. A closed room will act as another barrier between you and the cold outside.
  •   Add draft snake, V-seal weather stripping, rope caulk, fill cracked panes or outlet seals. All of these products are quite inexpensive and range between $3- 6 per window.

To get the most out of your window treatments, they need be adjustable, both for cold and hot days. Depending on the season and time of day, you may want to let in as much light, heat, fresh air and view as much as possible.
Now, your turn. How are YOU staying warm in the house?


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  1. Finding this blog post is awesome! I was looking for cheaper ways to keep the cold out. Thanks so much, Im gonna bookmark this one

    • Hi Sandra,
      I am also glad you found my blog. Most of my articles are from real life situations and questions from clients and friends and family. So, I just try to be helpful by sharing my experience and offering realistic solutions. People like you make me want to continue. :)

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