How to Keep the Outdoor Climate Outdoors
At Home with Warm Feet and Lower Power Bills
You are sitting in front of your big screen TV getting ready for the movie to start wondering why you are just not as comfortable at home as you would like. Doesn’t have anything to do with the old couch you’re sitting on or the loud voices from the other room, has more to do with a warm stuffy feeling up around the head or cold feet down along the floor – or the left over shock of having just open the monthly power bill. Here at home, you would like to have a little more of a sanctuary where you could settle into a Friday evening movie without being a victim of climate in your own home.
Being a little uncomfortable with the indoor elements during a Friday evening movie may not be the worst thing that will come along and irritate you this week. After all, some of the movies these days can really be sleepers. However, not being comfortable at home for the Sunday afternoon football game is a totally different matter. Look forward to the game all week, get ready to cheer your team on to victory and then you need a silly blanket wrapped around your legs to keep the chill from standing your leg hairs on end.
When it comes right down to it, the main thing that is contributing to the cold floor has little to do with the indoor air climate. What is causing the uncomfortable climate at home is the influence on your home of the outdoor climate. If it is minus 10 degrees outside and your home is not up-to-snuff, the outdoor climate is simply getting indoors far to easily.
Outdoor Climate at Home
The outdoor climate has the most influence on human comfort than any other common factor. The wind, temperature, solar radiation, relative humidity and precipitation effect the immediate comfort of people that are outside. Homes simply temper the outdoor elements to some degree, but the elements outdoors determine what needs to be done to maintain indoor comfort.
We expect more comfort in our homes today than in the days of log homes, dirt floors and wood fireplaces. Individual preferences vary some, but most people prefer an indoor air temperature between 68 and 72 degrees. About 60% of the energy we use at home is working to provide the heating and cooling to maintain those temperatures.
To be comfortable at home, our bodies need to be losing the same amount of heat to their surroundings as they are gaining by metabolism. Air temperature then is the primary factor determining comfort.
Commitment to Energy at Home
Take a look out the window, if there is snow on the ground we head for the thermostat and turn the heat up. If there are bluebirds cleaning themselves in the water feature we head for the thermostat and turn the air conditioning up. Either way, we are turning something up that uses energy to control our indoor comfort.
How often we consider the direct effect on our power bill as we approach the thermostat depends on two sets of genes. The first set of genes is known as our frontier genes. Frontier genes have been passed down to use by our forefathers and allow us to be more comfortable at home over a broad range of temperatures. The longer our forefathers lived in a log house the stronger these genes are.
The second set of genes is known as our green genes. These are genes that have developed in us from the life experiences we have had with everything from plastic water bottles in the ocean to polar bears looking for a new place to live. The strength of these two genes also determine how quick we are to raise or lower the setting on a thermostat.
Indoor Comfort at Home
I would rather learn how to help my home separate the outdoor climate from the indoor climate than to rely on a set of partially inherited genes or a blanket.
Steps to keeping the outdoor climate outdoors:
1. The exterior shell of your home needs to be consistent and strong considering your climate. The roof, exterior walls, floor, windows, paint, and doors need to solid and capable of withstanding the elements.
2. The exterior shell needs to be air sealed with solid building products, caulk, or foam insulation so the north wind does not blow through and the indoor conditioned air does not leak out.
3. The exterior shell needs to be insulated. This includes the ceiling, walls, and floor with appropriate insulation that is properly installed. Considering your climate, it is difficult to think that you could actually install too much insulation. The more the merrier.
4. Place the surface that you air sealed next to the cavity that you insulated. The two barriers, the air barrier and the thermal barrier, should be next to each other – side by side – touching.
Don’t let this next football season go by with a blanket across your legs or a cold damp towel around your neck. Don’t let your genes take a beating while you head for the thermostat and don’t let the outdoor climate determine the indoor climate.
After all, when your at home, you should be able to expect a little comfort.
Thanks for stopping by Detect Energy, come back soon, but I won’t leave the light on for you…