Insulating sliding glass doors. January 4, 2010Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: draft stoppers, frugal ways to reduce heating bills, insulated curtains, reducing heating bills
Between our fuel oil bills and our electric service’s announcement that, since they’ve been deregulated, they plan to raise electric rates by 30% in 2010 (and of course this doesn’t address future increases), our friend Ben and Silence Dogood have been trying to find ways to keep from freezing to death while cutting down on our fuel and electric use. Our first step was to turn down the thermostat to 57 degrees F. and to bundle up accordingly. (Our goal is to get it down to 55, but we’re taking it one degree at a time.) Fortunately, unless the wind is blowing, our indoor thermometer typically shows 61 degrees anyway.
Our windows in the newer part of the house—the living room, home office, bathroom, and cat-free room—have storm windows, which is a big help. The previous owners had a plexiglass panel cut to the exact outside dimensions of the big multi-paned bedroom window and framed to fit, and it makes an enormous difference. We’ve added bubble-wrap “curtains” over the drafty part of most other windows, and bubble-wrap insulation over the inside of our lone window air conditioner (along with an a/c cover for the outside). And we were the lucky recipients of a set of insulated curtains for the home office windows this fall, which has made an enormous difference in the temperature of the room. This also allowed us to transfer the two salvageable curtains from the ancient home office sets to augment the equally ancient (but insulated) curtains over the big bedroom window, which has also upped the comfort level in that room considerably. The living room curtains aren’t officially “insulated,” but they have two layers of fabric with different patterns, so they act like insulated curtains.
Other steps we’ve taken are to put a styrofoam faucet protector over our one outside faucet and to put draft stoppers at the entrances to the outside doors, the mudroom door, and a drafty closet door. Draft stoppers may be low-tech, but they make an absolutely huge difference in terms of keeping cold air out and warm air in! If you can’t stand paying for commercial versions, you can always make your own by rolling up a section of bubble wrap and securing the ends with rubber bands. We have a little space heater in the bathroom so we can make it nice and toasty while we’re showering without having to heat the whole house, then we turn the heater off once we’re finished. And we don’t have to worry about warm air escaping up our chimney since we installed a woodburning stove and the pipe and insulation block the air flow.
All of which is to say that we’re managing pretty well, all things considered, and every room is adequately warm. But the one big thing we haven’t figured out how to insulate is the sliding glass door that leads from the kitchen to the deck. When we bought the house, we bought a big curtain rod to hold curtains for the deck door, planning to purchase huge insulated curtains to draw across the deck door at night. But we’ve never put it up (or bought the curtains) because our kitchen table sits in front of the deck door, and that’s where we like to sit to read the paper, watch the birds at our feeders, eat our meals, and generally enjoy the view of our property and the fields and mountains beyond. There’s not enough room between the deck door and the wall to draw curtains fully back from the glass, and we hate the thought of blocking our light and our view. We know there’s now a clear plastic film that adheres to glass to help conserve heat, but our mutual incompetence in terms of even the smallest technical task pretty much ensures that if we tried to apply it, it would wrinkle over the entire glass surface, not ideal if your goal is to let in as much light as possible and be able to see out.
The other day, Silence was discussing our dilemma with our friend Delilah. Ever-practical, she instantly had a suggestion, which she puts into practice on her greenhouse during the winter. She suggested duct-taping a big sheet of bubble wrap to the inside surface of the immovable glass door and a second sheet to the outside of the moving door. She told Silence this would let the moving door slide freely while insulating both doors.
Thanks, Delilah! But what about our view?! If you all have any suggestions, either for our deck door or for reducing heating bills without spending much money, please let us hear from you!