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Making our windows more efficient, part 2

Posted by admin on Sep 15th, 2008
Sep 15

As promissed, here is the update to the window insulation film project. I decided to go with the Artscape’s Energy Film Window Film because there was no adhesive required. I thought it was going to be a simple “stick it on the window and forget it” type of a deal, but I was mistaken. It turned out to be more involved than I thought.

The biggest problem was that the package didn’t have any installation instructions, I had to go to the Artscape website and click on the “Installation” tab at the top of the screen. That’s where I found out that I needed a soapy water solution sprayed on the window and the film for it to adhere to the window.

Our windows have a faux window pane effect – i.e. they have these vinyl strips glued to the window to look like individual panes. I would love to take those pieces off but it would probably damage the window or leave a residue from the glue. Unfortunately, this means I have to cut out 12 12″x9″ pieces of the film per window. I’ve never really liked that style of window, but as much as I dislike them we’re going to have to live with them for a while, otherwise I wouldn’t have to be going through this effort.

Because of all of the individual pieces I needed to cut out and the extra time involved I was only able put up a test piece on one section. According to the instructions, the window can’t be hot when it is applied so I had to wait until the evening. The next day I did a hand test and found that the part of the window with the film on it was at least 20 degrees cooler than the unprotected “pane”. I’m going to finish the installation this week and then do some temperature checks to get a more accurate figure of the temperature difference between the filmed and unfilmed windows.

Making our windows more efficient

Posted by admin on Sep 9th, 2008
Sep 9

If you’re a regular reader here at EcoExist, you are familiar with the various things I’ve been up to in order to make our home more efficient. Living in the San Fernando valley it gets quite hot in the summer time, so because of this most of my focus has been on making our house stay as cool as possible without turning on the AC. It usually hits about 89 at around 4:00pm inside the house so obviously we do need the AC at that point. Up to about 85 is bearable now that we’ve become somewhat used to it, but there is a limit!

The main problem that causes the house to get so hot is that the windows are single pane, and that the exterior walls aren’t insulated – which is on my project list. We may as well just leave all the windows and doors open with how well our house is insulated. Why these things weren’t addressed in the 56 years since the house was built is beyond me. I guess the former owners didn’t mind using tons of electricity to power the AC. The funny thing is that the house was remodelled and the windows had been replaced at some point. Single pane? Seriously? Sheesh.

The only thing that is adequitely insulated is the attic, but that’s only because we blew in insulation up there earlier this year, which didn’t make as much of a difference as I had hoped. I’ve been researching several ways to try to maintain a more consistant and comfortable temperature inside the house without using any additional electricity and without spending a lot of money. One thing I’m considering is putting in a skylight that is designed to open and act like a solar chimney, which would allow the hot air to escape and pull in the cooler air at night. This of course would require a considerable amount of construction time. It’s still on my list but is pushed out farther. The other thing I had been considering is replacing the windows myself – but I’ve never installed a window before and we just had our house painted a few months ago so the idea of doing that is definitely postponed until later.

The best idea I’ve found so far is to use an insulating or tinted film on the windows. I had previously thought that the lack of insulation in the walls was the main culprit for how hot the house gets, but after doing some checks with my hand on various walls, and then on the windows, I found that the walls are the least of the issue and that the windows get really hot in the afternoon, almost too hot to touch. My son’s room was always the hottest which makes perfect sense since his room has the biggest window in the house and faces West for the afternoon and evening sun. This weekend I’m going to go to my local hardware store and see what I can find to try out. I’ve done some preliminary investigation and have narrowed it down to either Artscape’s Energy Film Window Film or Gila’s Titanium Heat Control Window Film. The Artscape is apparently like a cling on film, while the Gila needs to be glued on.

I’ll update with which one I chose and how well it works this weekend!