Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Autumn checklist

Winter is coming, and in Canada that means there's lots to do. I've got a long list of indoor projects to keep me busy in coming months, but some need to be done before the first frost. For now, I'll put aside my gardening projects (though they will be the focus this weekend). What do I need to do in order to keep my apartment cozy and my gas bills low this winter?

1. Replace the furnace filter.
The furnace is frighteningly 24 years old. The thought of how much gas it'll use scares me. But replacing the filter will make it run more efficiently and help with indoor air quality. This furnace uses a different kind of filter from the previous furnaces I've had, so expect a post on it in the near future.

2. Buy heavy, insulating curtains for the windows.
Even good windows let a lot of heat out at night. At best, they're R8, which is nothing when you consider that even a 2x4 stud wall holds R14 insulation (and new construction here typically has 2x6 stud walls with R20 fibreglass and often an inch or two of rigid foam at R6-8 per inch on the outside for the newest homes). Good, thick curtains can make a huge difference. Close them at night to keep the heat in, open them during the day (especially on south-facing windows) to reap the benefits of passive solar heating.

3. Do something about the front window.
The front window of my apartment is north-facing. The main panel is double-glazed, which is good. The lower, opening portion, however, has two single-glazed layers. Not terrible, but not great, and likely draughty. But my main concern is a beautiful stained-glass panel at the top. This will let a tremendous amount of heat out. Curtains are a good start, but not enough here.

I'll throw this last one out to any experts who read Green Tenant. I know that I could use a heat-shrinking plastic film. But what are my other options? I'm a tenant, so not in a position to replace the window. And I like the stained glass. It's pretty. Any great ideas out there?


jennie said...

I'm no expert, but would adding re-usable polymer-clay window putty around all the seals help? That would at least keep draughts from creeping in all the joins. I know this stuff comes in all different colours, so it wouldn't even need to look awful.

When I was in the UK, we used the dreaded cellophane window sealing to great effect, and I have to say that until I looked for it, I never noticed it when it was properly done.

Craig Saunders said...

I don't think the putty would work in this case. The window is pretty well sealed. The problem is the amount of energy that will transfer through the glass.

And like you, I've had good luck with the cellophane. But it doesn't always work well with the kind of latch that's on this window, and I'd also like to find a more permanent solution (i.e. one that doesn't require throwing out a sheet of plastic every year).