Saturday, February 25, 2012

Solar and Winterization

With us still in the grip of winter, its easy at this time to think about projects for summer that would benefit the house hold budget.

Recently I started looking at the creation of more effective thermal curtains. While you can get curtains at numerous local stores that claim to be thermal, I find the rubberized backed curtains don't really cut it in South Dakota, for denying the wintery cold drafters coming through.

So I've been looking at ways to seal off my windows at night, in an attractive format, that would give my interior home a more pleasant feel than simply putting an interior layer of plastic on my windows.

Past winters have generally meant tacking down plastic sheeting on the exterior of all my windows as well as plugging any gaps or holes along the window trim and house with caulking. This helps greatly in the Gallery house in the past, but its curb appear is far from appealing.

But the outside tends not to be quite enough, when we reach the deepest part of winter. Often we have to include a second layer of plastic. This tends to be the over-the-counter plastic sheeting that can be tightened to a clear glaze appearance with a simple hair dryer. Its often available in Wal-mart and Do-it-yourself centers.

While it keeps out the cold, the problem of visibility is a major problem and attractiveness.

So the quest for something that looks attractive from the outside and attractive from the interior of the house is critical.

This has encouraged me to begin studying deeper the topic of "thermal curtains".

One solution I have been investigating is the creation of "thermal shades" which would be rolled up during the day to allow in sunlight, but lowered during the night and secured with velcro strips along the window trim's edge. This shade would be made with layers of fabric (for visual appeal) and a type of insulation consisting of 1 layer of 5/32" polyethylene bubble that is sandwiched between two metalized, low emissivity surfaces.

One roll of the insulation would cover all the windows in the house, thus making it economical to consider the material for shade construction.

The shade would be sewing together, sandwiching the insulation in the middle of the shade, leaving only the fabric material visible from the home interior.

This shade would fit behind the traditional curtain and valance, so it would protect the house from loss of heat during winter nights, but with it being able to be rolled up out of the way, it would allow winter's low light to still flood the rooms.

Another option being experimented with is the inserting of bubble-wrap into window areas to add insulating factors, but leaving it uncovered, so that light could still enter. This method may work well for greenhouse settings, three season porches and other areas were we want to not have to deal with curtains being opened and closed.

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