Retrospective #6: Window Battens

You will recall from last week that I am a big fan of Neil Diamond and of pelmets. Unfortunately, Neil canceled his Wellington show last year. LAlso unfortunate is that installing pelmets is probably not an option for most renters. (More on that in a moment.) We made our pelmets by reusing old rusticated weatherboards that we removed while re-cladding the exterior. I ripped the re-used weatherboards to 150 mm wide and inverted them so the scallop faced downward. Installed against the drop ceiling in the lean-to section of our home (kitchen, dining and bathroom), the pelmets also serve as an attractive crown molding. Our thermal curtains are hung inside the pelmets – as you would. But because we have retained single glazing, we have added extra-layers of eco-thrifty window insulation in two ways. The first is a modified version of what are commonly called “window quilts” in North America.
Traditionally, a window quilt is an expensive, custom-made quilted cloth that rides up and down in a fitted track installed inside of the window frame. I have never seen one during my four years of living in New Zealand, but, then again, I never saw a pelmet in my 40 years of living in the States. As an international ambassador for all things energy-efficient, I am happy to introduce a special eco-thrifty version of the window quilt to Aotearoa. To avoid confusion, I call this version a “window batten.” A batten is a long, thin piece of wood, in this case about 25 mm by 25 mm. We just used whatever off-cuts we happened to have at hand.
The main idea behind a window batten is that it replaces a window quilt for a small fraction of the cost. For instance, a window batten made for about $5 can replace a window quilt that could cost upwards of $200. Multiply that by every window in your home and you get the picture. Additionally, window battens can be installed without making any holes (screws or nails) in the window frame. That is because a window batten is held up by friction. This is how to make one.
Cut a 25 mm x 25 mm batten 5 mm shorter than the inside width of your window frame. Cut a 25mm x 10 mm batten the same length. Select a wool blanket, duvet inner, or quilted mattress protector (mattress pad) that measures about the same size of the window, but slightly bigger. Next, you’ll need to “sandwich” one end of the blanket between the two battens. Make sure to leave some extra fabric hanging over both ends of the battens. (This will take up the 5 mm shortfall of the battens and wedge the entire unit inside of the window frame.) Pre-drill three to five evenly spaced holes through both battens (and the blanket between them), and then fix a screw in each hole. That is your window batten.
To install the window batten, fold the ends of the blanket over the ends of the paired battens and wedge the lot into the top of the window frame. If it is too loose, fold up a small piece of cardboard and wedge it in. If it is too tight, you may need to cut your battens shorter and try again. That’s one way we’ve insulated our windows against heat loss overnight. I’ll describe another way next week. 
Peace, Estwing

3 thoughts on “Retrospective #6: Window Battens”

  1. I'm a little concerned about moisture and mildew with such a simple system. Humid air can pass through the blanket, condense on the glass, and accumulate at the sill. There, it can damage wooden window framing, and support mold growth on hard surfaces. On the other hand, it wouldn't be difficult to include a plastic sheet layer on the indoor side of the blanket, or between two layers of blanket. The plastic must stay warm enough to prevent condensation.

  2. Thanks for the comment. We take a holistic approach to ETR, which would definitely include reducing moisture in the home. The blanket is removed daily as the curtains are opened and closed, so I do not think there would be any concern of moisture build-up or mold, especially because less overall condensation is happening as a result. By the way, I have heard of students in Christchurch using bubble wrap to perform basically the same function.

  3. Sometimes you have to trust your instincts. 🙂 Then whatever get out of it, build from there. There's an inherent flexibility in any situation; it's just a matter of finding the silver lining. And in this case, you made something out of another that is of great use for your window, and generally, your home. Roxie @ Allure

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