The Walls, part 2, or What are those holes doing in my house?

A couple of Blogs ago, I started to talk about everything that Walls do for us.  In most of the country it has been cold, cold, cold and I am sure you have been thinking about whether or not your walls are doing the important job of keeping you warm!  Well the walls might not be your problem, so long at they have some insulation in them.  Windows are wonderful at transferring heat out of a house.   Wait, let me back up a step.  According to the laws of thermodynamics heat wants to move towards cool.  It moves faster if the material that it is moving through is conductive of heat, and if there is a big temperature difference.  So let's use that information to look at a wall on this frosty morning.  Hmm very cold outside, kind of warm inside, separated by a wall made of plaster, air space, wood and stucco.  Cold also separated from warm by a single pane of glass in the window.  Heat is lazy, (like me) what path is it going to take to the outside?  Even an uninsulated wall is less conductive than a window.  This is why people often get the advice to replace windows with double paned windows, if they are having problems keeping their house warm.  So what is wrong with that?

Well, the advice is good, but windows are really expensive.  Insulation is cheaper, and if you own your house should be the first step.  But what if you are a renter, or have little budget in these tough economic times?

 

I have long been a fan of honeycomb blinds.  They are not sexy, they are sort of the white cotton panty of the window covering world.  But perhaps a more accurate analogy would be the performance base layer of window coverings.  I am a very visual person and there is nothing much exciting about honeycomb blinds, except the fact that they get out of the way when you are not using them.  But an inside mount blind, fitted fairly close to the frame of your window, cuts down on drafts and improves the thermal performance of your window.  Most studies I have read put the improvement at at around 2 points improvement in the R value, depending on the existing R value of the window.  For a couple of hundred dollars per window, this is a nice patch if you are doing triage on a cold leaky house.

 Your other inexpensive tools in a drafty house are: strippable caulk around leaky windows (this is designed to be removed when you want to open the window again.) and weatherstripping around doors.