Article: Speak Easy

Why Is My House  Cold And What  Can I Do  About It? with Michael BoturWhy Is My House Cold And What Can I Do About It? with Michael Botur

Want a perfectly warm house? It’s simple: the trick is to board up all your windows, cover up all those beautiful floorboards, take away all doors, recessed lights and electrical outlets, nail shut the cat flap, seal the fireplace and any other aperture to the outside world, thus ensuring no air gets in… or out.

My point is that windows, doors, floorboards and cat flaps all let air flow, unfortunately, and the way it works is cold air comes in through any small crack and pushes warm air up and away.

We don’t always see the effects of cold air because the movement can be so subtle. Here’s the cycle: Cold air comes through low cracks, pushing warm air up and out of the ceiling and windows. New air comes in to replace the air that is being pushed out, so the escaping warm air unfortunately sucks more cold in.

The answer to preserving the temperature you want in your home isn’t just to crank the fire, heat pump and electric heaters. It’s important to recognise your windows are a significant source of heat loss and begin by looking at stopping them from making your place cold. Double glazed windows are both expensive and effective; it’s those single pane casement and louvre windows which are the problem. One solution is DIY window insulation kits.

DIY window insulation kits look like overpriced Glad Wrap. They are panes of plastic film which you stick around your window frame with clear double-sided tape (so the end result is nearly invisible). Stretch the film taut enough and condense it with a blow dryer and the plastic will shrink away all wrinkles. If you’ve done the job perfectly, you’ll end up with a clear film with a gap of an inch or two between the film and your window. Bear in mind once you’ve stuck one of these layers of Glad Wrap around the frame, you won’t be able to open your window for the rest of winter.

I stuck a DIY insulation kit on three windows last month. It would’ve been five windows, but I got covered in sticky tape and melted plastic. You see, because I am a writer of unparalleled genius, I thought I knew better than the instructions on the box and I thought using a heat gun instead of a blow dryer would suffice. Still, with a bit more clear Sellotape patching over the melted holes, I now have condensation-free windows, so that’s cool.

All in all, I do recommend DIY window insulation kits (about $15 from your local hardware shop to cover four windows). They are a very simple alternative to double glazing, which can cost almost $1000 per window.

One last thing: if you have no blow dryer and need to use a heat gun to seal your plastic insulation pane, do hold the heat gun far away from the plastic. You’ll end up like a writer of unparalleled genius, otherwise, and by that I mean covered in sticky tape.

Michael Botur has published journalism in NZ Herald, Herald on Sunday, Sunday Star-Times and Mana and he writes a lot of fiction. He moved to Whangarei in 2015 and was ecstatic to be able to afford a house here.

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