Curtain call ahead of winter

Virginia Driver with curtains donated to the Dunedin Curtain Bank, which will clean and thermally line each curtain before giving them to those in need. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Virginia Driver with curtains donated to the Dunedin Curtain Bank, which will clean and thermally line each curtain before giving them to those in need. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Virginia Driver is on a mission - to secure a sizeable deposit of used curtains for Dunedin's Curtain Bank, to help provide low-income earners with a practical solution to warming the city's cold homes.

''I know what Dunedin houses are like. I live in a cold house that needs thermal curtains,'' the Dunedin Curtain Bank trustee said yesterday.

The idea behind the non-profit organisation was as open and shut as the curtains it required.

Donated curtains would be washed, thermally lined - if not already - and then distributed to those in need.

Research from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority showed thermally lined curtains, when drawn, could reduce heat loss through windows by 60% for single glazed windows.

Mrs Driver, an interior architect, said curtain banks had been established successfully in Christchurch and Wellington, and Dunedin was the logical next city.

Curtains would be for low-income people and distributed by the city's social services agencies, which could hopefully start before winter, she said.

People would receive a form on how to measure curtains, which would be mainly for living rooms, but may include bedrooms depending on their need.

For those physically unable to measure curtains, the services of Blokes Shed participants would be enlisted, she said.

The Curtain Bank had received curtains from Knox College and from Super Grans, and a large Dunedin property management company had indicated it could donate former student flat curtains.

Another aim was for the Curtain Bank to become involved in future energy efficiency efforts, and be able to source Government grants, she said.

Donations could be made to The Hub, in Oxford St, South Dunedin, between 9am and noon, on weekdays.

Material facts
• Thermal-backed and lined curtains can significantly reduce heat loss through windows.
• Having curtains open during the day in winter and closing them at nightfall will help keep rooms warmer.
• For best insulation, curtains should be of thick, thermal-backed material, preferably double-layered with thick lining, fit tightly against wall or window frame, be wider than the window frame, be floor to ceiling, or have pelmets above.
• Curtains only work when they are drawn and are not a substitute for double glazing.



Fantastic idea

This is a great idea and congratulations to the organisers. It's a real shame it is needed though - I imagine the majority of low-income families live in rentals, and ethical landlords have a responsibility to their tenants to provide a warm home.

Our flat is quite nice, but cold and damp. We have lived here four years and been good tenants. The curtains in the house are terrible though. We have very large, old sash windows in the bedrooms. My bedroom had three curtains over the window, all unlined, let alone thermal. The other rooms are the same, up to four curtains over one window, creating extra gaps.

When I asked the landlord to consider thermal curtains, I was told it was "not a priority". I went and got my own for my bedroom. They are big curtains and cost only $40 new. I was really disappointed at the landlord's attitude when the price was so reasonable.

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