Letter on Utility Costs

My recent column on winterizing and cutting utility costs garnered several favorable comments (i.e. more than two) and even a letter in reply.  Since the letter adds a couple of things I missed, I’m including it here with a few edits for brevity.

Dear Ken,

Thank you for the nice energy saving reminders that appeared in Saturday’s newspaper.

Here’s my energy saving ideas that you can add to your list.

I have live in a 1053 square foot 1981 mobile home that has been weatherized by the Community Action Council. They did things to my home that I could never have afforded to do on my own.  I do everything on your list of suggestions plus a couple more.

I use a radiator style electric heater for space heating the main living area of my house.  Since I don’t have young children in the house, I’m able to keep my heat vents closed and the doors to the bedrooms, bathroom and utility room closed during the day.   Radiant heat feels better than other types so I’m able to turn my thermostat down two degrees and still feel cozy. I run the space heater very low so it uses about 300 Watts – like three 100-Watt light bulbs.  The extra heat keeps my forced air furnace from running much.  Even in this really cold weather it only comes on about every two or three hours or so.  I’m saving a lot of energy this way.

Space heating is always more efficient than forced air, but the radiator type is the most comfortable.

My other issue is my windows.  I have single pane aluminum frame windows.  Aluminum frame windows are colder than even the older wood frame windows because metal transmits heat or cold much more that wood.

I’ll never be able to afford double pane vinyl windows so I decided to try the shrink plastic kind by Frost King.

The first year I tried this I just got frustrated and gave up.  Last year I tried it again and put them up this year too.  It’s really hard to get that thin plastic to look OK and it’s very very, time consuming too. No wonder most people don’t even bother with it.  The real problem is that that plastic doesn’t insulate very well.  After all that work, I still can feel the cold coming right through that thin, ugly looking plastic.

I went on line to see if I could find clear Mylar for inside winter windows.  Here are some facts:

The U value is the winter insulating value.  The lower the number, the better the insulation.

1/8” or .125” thick glass has U value of 1.3

.003” thick clear Mylar has a U value of 1.22

Clear Mylar comes in .003”, .005”, .007” and .010” thickness’.

You can see that putting clear Mylar on windows and getting 21/2 to 3 times the insulation of glass would be a real energy saver. I don’t know if I would want .007” or .010” thick.  It comes in 48” wide rolls, 25’ long, 50’ long and 100’ long.

Mylar doesn’t wrinkle and is easy to work with so people would actually have the time to install it.  It is practically indestructible, so people would just buy them once and put them up every winter and store them rolled up in a closet every summer.

Thanks again for sharing your winterizing thoughts.