What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Monday, 12 January 2009

Sheffield Star online post #7 - by Robb

Keep the cold out and the warmth in.

Have a look around your house. If you want it to be warm you have to actively keep it that way. Work to keep more of the heat indoors and use less costly fossil fuel. Obviously, if you stand in the doorway and chat you are heating the garden but less obvious are all the ways cold air gets in the house unsuspected. Quite often the biggest benefit of getting double glazed windows is the proper installation ameliorating all the gaps around the old frames. Another problem area often overlooked are gaps around the floors where they meet the walls. After installing recycled denim insulation under our ground floor, more on that in the next post, we were perplexed that the floor remained so cold. While working on the antennae wires behind the TV I discovered how much air was blowing up from the cellar through the cracks. The cold air then settles on the floor.

I purchased tubes of silicon sealant, white to match the skirting boards, and spray foam insulation for the huge gaps I discovered under the cabinets in the kitchen. Reluctant as I was to use the spray foam due to it’s terrible environmental credentials, from over-packaging to toxic chemicals, I could think of no better way to seal under the cabinets and cooker short of ripping them out. These products also have negative impacts on indoor air quality so I chose a warmish day and opened the windows to let the fumes clear.

After removing the cove molding at the base of the skirting boards I vacuumed out as much dust as I could. Being careful not miss any areas I carefully filled the cracks between the flooring and the skirting boards as well as any cracks on top of the skirting boards between them and the walls. Ideally I should have removed the skirting boards and sealed the gap between the floor and the wall but that would have risked damaging the skirting boards and would have involved lots of sanding and painting before replacing the them. I wanted a smaller job but permanent. A more temporary, simple and cheap solution would be heavy masking tape over the small gaps and cracks and newspaper stuffed into the big ones. This might be more appropriate for some of you who are renters.

While the sealant dried, I lay on the kitchen floor and tried to reach all the edges under the cabinets and cooker with spray foam. I used the tube on the spray nozzle to give me some extra reach. The pressure and expanding nature of the foam helped fill the gaps I couldn’t see. Where the pipes for the kitchen sink went through the floor required additional foam application from the cellar.

Once the sealant had dried I replaced the cove molding and we enjoyed a noticeably warmer floor. Two thirds of interior temperature comes from surfaces, such as floors and walls, and only one third from air temperature. By keeping the floor warmer you are less likely to feel cold and less likely to feel the need to turn up your thermostat. This is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to improve the warmth of your house and reduce your energy bills.

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