Design 101: Staying Warm All Winter
December is here and as the temperature plummets outside, we are focused on maintaining a comfortable temperature inside. This month we’re answering questions related to getting warm and staying that way.
We are looking at a new build. What should we consider for our HVAC? That question is best answered in conjunction with your architect. Is there gas? What is the solar score? Are you interested in geo-thermal and the tradeoffs involved? We always suggest looking into hydronic radiant floor heating, but even that isn’t always the best solution.
Pro Tip: If you do have gas, consider a gas powered generator right off the bat. You are going to lose electricity at some point, but chances are you won’t lose gas at the same time.
I love our back deck; is there a moderately priced way to heat it? Much like many restaurants are doing now, you can consider a portable heater. Propane heaters are very affordable, propane is widely available, and the “only when you need it” nature is very convenient.
Pro Tip: While heating oil is relatively easy to place and store, there are significantly more regulations regarding the proper placement and storage of propane. Consult your supplier before getting started.
Short of an energy audit, is there a quick way to improve the efficiency of my home’s insulation? It is very rare that a home, especially an older one, wouldn’t benefit from adding some insulation in the attic. However, I would be willing to bet that your windows are likely a large source of heat loss. Weather stipping or an optically clear film (applied with a hairdryer) are very inexpensive ways to address the issue in the short term.
Pro Tip: Go put your hand on the glass. The colder it feels the more heat you are losing. If you feel a breeze, add weather stripping today!
Is there anything else I can do to help stop heat loss at the windows? Yes! Drapes, especially those that are lined are good in exactly this scenario. If possible look for a “thermal lining” as opposed to the basic option.
Pro Tip: Interlining a felt-like fabric — like that which sits between the face fabric and lining in silk drapes— is an excellent way to add a bit more insulation.
My spouse keeps buying blankets but they don’t really keep me warm. Why not? Many of the decorative blankets that have become popular recently feature an open weave allowing the heat to pass through them. Be a hero, go out and procure a cashmere or alpaca throw. They look good, feel great, and have a much higher insulative value.
Pro Tip: Wool can be harvested without harming the animal and is inherently fire retardant. Snuggle by the fire and don’t worry as much about a stray ember that may land on the blanket. I suggest a traditional Scottish wool tartan plaid.