It's Cold Outside,

C Robb W. 444°

It is a cold snowy morning. I am staying in an old sandstone residence at a boarding school in West Yorkshire dating back to the 18th century. I can feel cold air seeping in around the old single pane windows. This is an historic grade 1 listed building which severely limits the modifications allowed, double glazing isn’t likely any time soon. So, I roll up a couple of tea towels and stuff them into the gap at the bottom of the window and along the join between the upper and lower sections where I could see a cob web blowing in the breeze.

4 of the 6 windows have an extra window on hinges added inside, they are not tight but better than nothing. Adding this feature to the last 2 windows would help and for just the cost of some draft excluder these could be much improved. We keep the windows covered whenever we don’t need the light as the radiators are directly under the windows in most rooms. This is the worst place to put a radiator. Heat rises and much of it is simply transferred through the glass to the outdoors. This is true for most double glazing as well which is only as effective as a solid wall at holding in heat. High end windows are gas filled and triple glazed with special coatings to reflect the heat back into the room. If you can afford it they may be worth the investment. Drapes should stop at the sill and be heavy enough to insulate the window. If the drape covers the top of the radiator it will route most of the heat heat behind it and along the cold glass, heating the garden. We keep the drapes tucked in behind the radiators to keep the heat away from the cold glass. An inexpensive reflector placed behind the radiator will also reduce heat loss through the wall.

I’m in the kitchen with a warm cup of tea watching the snow fall. I can feel cold air blowing across my legs. Looking under the kitchen counter top I find there is a huge hole in the wall board where the pressure adjust valves for the boiler are accessed. Cold air is pouring in there so I stuff a bath mat into it. Earlier in the week I discovered that the front door had a gap along the edge about a centimeter across. I had some leftover foam draft excluder from tightening up our house in Sheffield and used it up along the worst sections on the edge below the latch.

Now that I’ve stopped up some of the leaks I wonder about insulation. I don’t know if the floor is insulated but judging by the feeling coming through to my stockinged feet I’d guess not. It still amazes me to find buildings in which the simplest things have not been done to save energy and increase comfort. The built environment is responsible for up to half of all energy use. As part of any plan to increase resiliency it must be high on the list. Architecture 2030 has proposed a plan that I heartily support. Check em out at,
http://www.architecture2030.org/

2 replies

Charles M. 110°

Surely even with the building restrictions you can still apply a better temporary insulation to the windows.

Two easy ways to do this are:
1) Placing plastic film over the window (or even cling film) thus creating a still air gap. (ie a bit like double glazing)
2) Cover the window with bubble wrap. Although this obstructs the view most of the light will still get through.

Written in February 2009

Charles M. 110°

Here's the stuff I mentioned for covering windows.
http://eartheasy.com/store/proddetail.php?prod=...
Should be available all over. I know we can get it in NZ too.

Here's a link for someone who has done something a bit different:
http://www.hammerzone.com/archives/energy/conse...
http://www.hammerzone.com/archives/energy/conse...

None of these should worry the historic places people.

Written in February 2009

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