Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Request for Advice: Winterproofing Home

Hey you Readers Raised in Cold Weather:

My house is charming, but it was built in the early 20th century (drafty even with storm flaps, not well-insulated to begin with) and is a coverted garage on the bottom floor of a tree-shaded house. It's built on a big slab of concrete and has lots of single pane glass windows. It is thus very, very cold sometimes, since it's the least energy efficient house with the cold-retaining concrete, aluminum window frames, and single-paned glass. The ugly carpet insulates some, but I just accept that I have to wear thick socks and slippers. But the heat loss through the windows is what bugs me the most. Single pane glass sucks! The living room has four large windows, and my bedroom has two small windows and a large window seat type one behind my work desk. My roomate has a large window in her room as well, as does the kitchen. All told, our house has nine windows.

There's hardly any point turning on the heater, since the heat just goes right out the windows anyway. And that would raise our energy bill, and I'm stingy about stuff like that. Plus, it's bad for the environment. I try to just bundle up as much as I can and use limitedly my space heater for my bedroom (and thus barricade myself against the winter in my room, which sucks because I would like to enjoy the rest of the house), but even using a space heater is energy inefficient, increases costs, and I still lose more heat than I generate. Right now I'm wearing a thermal sweater, fleece sweat pants, a long fleece robe, thick socks, and slippers. This is a ridiculous amount of clothing, and it is weird wearing my wool coat all day.

My questions to you, my Cold Weather Friends who are Handy: How Do I Insulate My House In The Winter?!

I grew up in Southern California and have lived in mostly new buildings with miracle advances like double-paned windows, central heating, and a working water heater. While this house was awesome when we moved here in June, it is not quite as awesome as it used to be with the onset of chilly weather.

Options I've found by googling "how to insulate single pane windows":

1. Heavy Drapes. The problem is trying to custom fit rods in each weirdly sized window, and drapes can get expensive. I might be able to use curtain wire to suspend the curtains to fit my weird-sized, recessed windows, but it would depend on the weight of the curtains/weight-bearing capacity of the curtain wire or suspension system.

2. Insulating Energy Film: This supposedly adds an extra layer to single-pane glass, to prevent heat loss up to 38%. Couple that with draft/crime-blocking seals, this would be the easiest and most economical option.

What do you recommend?! Any cheaper alternatives? Moving is not an option. I like my house except for this. I doubt my landlord will pay to replace ALL the windows in our house, and I don't want him to increase our rent if he does so or make us pay for it (I have to look up rent control laws). Even if I could afford to replace the windows myself, our lease prohibits us from modifying the house too much.

Any help would be appreciated, either in the comments or by email. Many thanks!