Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Tuesday, November 14, 2006 Shrink Wrap
I could call the power company and ask them to send someone to my house to do an energy audit -- one of those things where they come and tell you how to spend the winter heating your house and not your yard -- but I already know how it's going to go. Some guy will come out, take one look at our original, circa 1950 windows, and tell us to replace those creaky old beasts. Sure, most of them still work fine, and have all the pieces, and you can't even get them in those sizes any more, but in the long run it'll be worth it because with the increased energy efficiency, the expense will easily be covered in a matter of centuries. Drop a few thousand now, and I'll be glad I did come December 2253, when it's going to be so much cheaper to keep the house cool.
Much easier to just get some of those plastic window insulating sheets and tape them up. If you're reading this south of the Mason-Dixon line (or even, if you're as lazy as I was until last year, south of Canada), a window insulation kit is a less well known but no less ingenious product of my neighbors, the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, better known as 3M. They're the folks who brought you Scotch Tape, Post-Its, and all manner of digital media, and they're not paying me at all. The way they work is that with some double-sided tape (included), you stretch a sheet of clear plastic across your window frame. Now, anyone who's ever attempted to sleep in cellophane sheets probably doesn't think that sounds very cozy at all (especially after the sex is over), but the insulation actually comes from the air space that the plastic creates. And you can still see through your windows, unlike those ignorant souls who every winter attempt to seal out Old Man Winter with a layer of Owens-Corning fiberglass and end up having a very itchy winter.
The things are even so easy to put up that I used to do my own bedroom window when I still lived at home. Since then I've added a degree of difficulty, in that back then I had to decide in advance how high I wanted my window shade all winter. These days I cut little holes for the rod and the cord so we can open and close them even when they're sealed up tight behind plastic.
Also complicating things is that when I was seventeen, I didn't have a two-year-old running around "helping." Otherwise my life would probably be quite different right now.
I like to get the film up nice and tight; not only for the insulating qualities, but also because, as I've told Trash, it's like wrapping a Christmas present that you're going to have to look at for the next four or five months. But what's great about this film is that you point a blow-dryer at it for a few minutes and all the wrinkles disappear when it goes tight as a drum.
"Tight as a drum" turns out to not be an entirely good thing, in a house with a percussion-minded toddler in the house. Last year, for instance, we ended up having to use a few of those other aforementioned 3M products to patch things up (No, not Post-Its. Jeez).
But that issue may have been self-correcting this year. We only have one hair dryer, and as a safety feature it's got a built-in GFI on the plug. You drop it in the bath, it automatically goes dead before you do. Then you dry it off (but…with what?) hit the reset button and it's good to go again. Except Sunday, when I was heating up the front window, M. Small found that button and pressed it so many times that it killed the hear dryer for good. And since neither Trash nor I is in the habit of blow-drying, it was our only one. I think they last time either of us even used the thing was last year when I insulated the windows.
Anyway, I've got five of the main-floor windows sealed up so far, with two-and-a-half of them blow-dried. There are three to go, not counting the ones in M. Small's bedroom. And since I plan to do the rest of the windows while he's asleep, I think we'll just leave those two the way they are. Those heavy quilts we've got hanging over them should be good for keeping out more than just light, right? posted by M. Giant 9:17 PM 1 comments
When I lived in Japan --the land of icy winters and exterior walls made of approximately 3 cm of mdf or pylwood, where doubleglazing is a myth unless you live in Hokkaido-- I discovered the wonder that is bubblewrap on windows.