Saturday, December 25, 2010

Winter window fixes

The cold snap reminded me that the windows in my new-to-me condo needed attention.   I finally took some time and made the insulated drapes for the balcony sliding doors and used a new lining that is flannel backed. Like the new black out linings it drapes much better than the older versions of the same thing and the price was actually less than regular drapery lining.  I took down the plastic verticals (they were there when I moved in) and installed a double rod, put some crinkle sheers up and then the soft yellow drapes and I love them. And the room is so much warmer.  If you want to do something like this yourself, look into the pre-made panels available that have blackout lining built in. 
I made  removable insulated liners for the bedrooms; I didn’t want to use black out lining - I like as much light as possible, especially in this dark season -  so I used a very thin cotton quilt batting that also drapes well and these rooms are  a lot warmer now too.
I don’t like to repeat myself but I thought this might be the time to remind you that you can make a difference in your heating bill by fixing your window treatments.
A home with 4” studs must have R-12 insulation. If you have a double insulating glass window with 1/2” air space between the layers, the R value of the window is about 2. Add a single layer of fabric, almost no increase, add a plain lining for an increase of about 1 for a total R value of R3. Add a black out lining; R-value is up to about R5 or 6. Add an interlining, and the R value jumps to about R9. Add an insulated Roman Blind and valance and the R value of the whole window treatment becomes about R16. Remember that the window treatments you are using to reduce heat loss must be snug to the window and layers will provide the best protection.  Think about this: if you have a blind inset into your window frame and the gap on each side is 1/8”, over 80 inches (40 inches on each side) this equates to a 3” x 3” hole in your coverage.
If you’d like to know how much of your heating costs are going out the window, e-mail me;

Space Heaters

So there I am, shivering from being outside in the COLD, standing in front of the space heaters in the hardware store. I needed to buy one and I didn’t have a clue which one to get. The clerk couldn’t help, so I picked one on sale and took it home. Then I did some research and found that I had bought the wrong one. 
I should have taken a page from my design training and really looked at what I needed before I bought one. So, to help you not make the same mistake, here is your space heater primer. ( These all refer to plug in electric heaters ).
To heat a whole room with a constant heat the best is an oil-filled radiator type. They take a bit longer to warm up but are very efficient. No fans though. 
To heat a  space with  fan-driven heat: Ceramic heaters. 
To heat a small space quickly, like your toes under the desk; choose a radiant heater. The feeling is like sitting in the sun.  The most efficient of these are the halogen heaters; they work with the same principal as halogen light bulbs and come to temperature almost immediately.
Do you need a thermostat? auto shutoff? timer control? oscillating fan?  Think about the answers before you go shopping. 
NEVER use a space heater with anything other than the recommended extension cord.  A regular household cord is not good enough, don’t risk it.     
It would seem that a 1500 watt heater would be ‘better’ than an 800 watt heater. This is not necessarily so.   An 800 watt radiant heater will do the job it was intended to do quite nicely.
How much does it cost to run one?
Divide the watts by 1000 and multiply by the cost of electricity per hour and you have your hourly cost. Here we pay  6 to 9 cents per kilowatt hour. Lets use 10 cents.
A 1500 watt heater: 1500 divided by 1000 = 1.5. Multiply this by 10 cents = 15 cents per hour.  But, if an 800 watt heater is all you need,  the cost drops to 8 cents per hour. A light bulb costs .6 of a cent per hour, a computer and monitor 4 cents, a fridge 10 cents. 
I returned the heater; got the correct one and now I’m much warmer and I saved money too.