I lived in southwest Montana for 12 years in the 80s and 90s, in a 1928 shotgun, stuccoed 2-story house. The stucco outside was amazingly tight, and the lathe and plaster walls inside were tight and smooth. Even the inside of the closets were beautifully plastered. The walls were trues 2x4s and 2x6s with NO INSULATION. We had a new Vermont Castings wood burning stove, a pretty good one for the time .
The double hung wood windows were original to the house, and included a seperate set storm windows that we stored in the garage and hung every winter. There were simple heavy bent 'pegs' at the top of each window that slid into metal receivers at the top of the framed-in windows. Toggles on the outside trim held the windows in securely. At the bottom of each storm window were five holes drilled through, each about an inch in diameter. On the inside of the storm there was a wooden bar that covered the holes. It was connected to the window with a single wing-nut bolt, and we could let the house breathe by loosening the bolt and then swiveling it up os the holes were exposed. This allowed enough of the cool air into the house that it never felt stuffy.
I am an old-house afficianado. One of the great lies perpetrated on the consumer has been the industry-wide push of double-pane replacement windows. It is wasteful and unnecessary. The difference in Rvalues between a double-pane window and an original old window is not much. The main difference comes from sealing the air gaps, which can be done in other ways.
Every year it was so miraculous to live through the first icy nights of fall/winter and awake to the snowflake patterns on the windows and dampness on the sills. A few hours later, and the first morning after the annual installation of the outside storm windows, no frost, no dampness. To keep your interior glass dry, you have to prevent the outside cold air from touching it. The condensation forms because of the difference in temps between the inside and outside air. I have lived in other houses in cold climates with cloth warm-window curtains. I hated the damp fabric and the damp musty smell they had after a couple of months. I would much prefer to put in the work to make sturdy outside storm windows (using recycled wood and recycled window glass) and maintain those every year. fwiw
Somebody makes interior storm windows out of acrylic, predominantly for the old-house crowd. The frames are flexible and bend slightly, so you can snap them into your windows from the inside. I've never seen them in actiom, but I think that the resources wasted by uninstalling, damaging and usually throwing away old windows that are still functional are balanced by the use of either building exterior wooden storm windows or buying these flexible interior windows. Just my opinion regarding using new stuff versus maintaining old stuff until the end of its life.
"Skidding rocks is better than rolling them. Rolling is better than lifting. Lifting sucks." -a High School trail crew volunteer
"Don't cut your foot with the axe. It will not add to the pleasures of camp life." -Vacation Camps for Girls circa 1913
Yeah, I was looking at pretty heavy duty rods, but still worried. I think I'm going to redesign the whole thing anyway--we are thinking something with a rigid frame that maybe swings down and fits in the frame.
So here is a terrible illustration of what I'm now thinking about. The problem I'm thinking about is what to do where the fabric bit in front meets the window sill. I want a gap between the batting insert and the sill, where condensation can be collected and diverted (maybe to a houseplant?), but then you have air cooled by the window pooling on the sill and sinking down into the room. I'm thinking that the fabric bit could tuck back onto the window, with the condensation catching device above so that water never reaches the sill where the fabric is resting, as illustrated in picture number two.
you could probably get cotton rags to line the window. they'd soak up any moisture and you can swap out easily.
I understand going with wool batting and fabric for mold potential, but going with cotton fabric would be cheaper.
I have some sheep friends who have had batting made for quilting. They send their wool to Zeilingers for processing. this is the sales page for quilt batting, listed by size and you can get it without the cheesecloth liner if you ask. It also shows estimate weights for the different sizes.
I think one of the best takeaways from this whole discussion might be that when you are building, there’s things you can compromise on, and things you really shouldn’t. High quality windows are in the ‘shouldn’t’ list, especially where winter is cold. Bite the bullet, buy the best windows you can find, and forget about that part of your house forever. The first old house we renovated was a duplex and had over 20 windows. We bought storm windows at $50 each because we couldn’t afford new (good quality) replacement windows at $300+ each. The storms helped, but still had condensation issues. Bit by bit, we bought new triple glazed low E windows. The difference in heating costs was amazing. And when that house got sold, the windows were an excellent factor in getting a good price for it. 70-80% of heat loss for most buildings is through windows and doors. It’s the best place to spend extra.
I was thinking on this. The problem with the suggested is that it takes too much effort regularly to implement.(it is fine for short term testing) By the time you fold everything up and down and put stays in to seal the sides etc. This needs to be fast and easy at the very least and ideally automatable easily too. For something you do daily for months on end it is usually better to spend time up front. Say you spent 7 minutes each day futzing with it to get a seal your way. Say you could reduce that to 2 minutes with better design. If you only used it 90 days of the year that is a savings of 450 minutes(7 ½ hours) So in just the first year you would reach pay back on time if you spent less than that building a bit morestuff. Say it would run 5 years without maintenance. Now you are talking nearly 40 hours saved. So as you can see you should be able to afford a bit of up front cost in effort and/or material.
What if the curtain was anchored solidly at the top and wrapped around a roller that went down the frame. The roller would be fairly heavy. To control it counter wrap ropes that control how it unrolls. Thus the curtain unrolls next to the window as the ropes wrap on the side away from the window. Now you say what about sealing the sides. What if you added a gentle decorative curve to the verticals of the windows frame. This would work with either a flat frame or one with a window ledge. The shape of the curved piece changes is all. Thus the curtain could suck tight to the curves. At the bottom add some hooks to suck the roller back in tight to the wall. If the roller had small axles out each end to catch the hooks then they wouldn't need to stick out quite as much. Thus the fabric would me mounted at the top to seal, sucked tight to a curve down both sides and pulled tight and sucked back into the wall by the roller settling in the hooks. The ropes would go up and over pulleys and back down to a counter weight. The weight should be slightly heavier than the roller. When it goes down it sets on a shelf and when lifted to let the blind down just put a french cleat on the wall to hook it over.
The neat thing about this is it could be easily automated. Simply add a capstan above where the cleat would be and do away with the cleat.(the capstan will serve as the weight up anchor(brake)) To manually raise the curtain pull down on the ropes above the capstan and simply let the rope slide around it. To manually lower the curtain simply raise the weight like normal letting the rope slide around the capstan. Under power the capstan would winch it up and down. Limit switches with diodes in the shelf and the top of the stroke for the weight. When the weight goes off because the weight hit the shelf it will automatically stop stop moving in case of an electrical limit switch failure. There again when the roller settles in the hooks with the curtain the tension goes off the ropes on that side in the case of a limit switch failure so the safeties are built in. And you could probably run the capstan with a salvaged window motor from a car as they are worm drive, fairly high torque and slow plus being readily available.
See drawings below. 2 side views one without a ledge and one with and a front view leaving out the curtain itself for clarity. It would run between the curtain cleat and the roller wrapping onto the roller on the side closest to the window. One other possible would be to run the ropes over the ceiling in some board guides so all the windows in the room could be run from a central location.
If the roller is hollow with holes then the rolled curtain can dry from both inside and outside. It would make mounting axles more difficult to have holes in the ends to allow ventilation as well but is doable. Might even build the roller as a series of battens with slots between. If doing it with wool suggest 2 things. Treat the wool with borax liquid. fungus, insect and fire resistance in one addition. 2nd stopping air movement thru the wool should reduce moisture problems so a really tight weave fabric rolling with it should help block the wind.
Now as another potential insect control if you built a wood box open on the botoom / shelf around the roller and built it out of cedar when the shade was up it would be in its own little cedar chest. Since it is open on the bottom it likely would only be good for a few years at a time before needing to be refreshed with cedar oil. Or it could be other wood and simply have a place to hang cedar shavings out of sight for the same affect.
Finally I was still thinking about wanting to be able to put a radiant barrier in too. Easy answer might be to stitch it in between layers. Will the aluminized layer wear off then? But alternately there is no reason why the rollers couldn't be stacked. The radiant barrier really doesn't need to seal good on the edges so if its roller was set up to go inside the frame and settle on the lower window ledge the upper roller with the curtain could go right over the top of it. Would need the spacers out more and possible an inner box open on the bottom.
C.Letellier. So right about ease of use. And that's a great drawing to show an interesting idea.
Jen, very wide windows like that introduce their own problems which can sometimes be _real_ problems.
"Divide and conquer" can help. But the light on the left side looks like the one you want to "get to" regular because it opens. A window that you open regularly also introduces problems. So that may not be the the first place to attack. I can't tell for sure, but it looks like the window light on the right is all one piece all the way across with the small post not being part of the window. Makes things harder to "divide", but not that much. Soft stuff can be stuffed between the glass and the post; maybe a "door snake" would work - it could be tacked to the post up and down. That divides/seals the outside of the post. Then rip a piece of wood and tack that vertically to the inside of the post. Make it thick enough that it comes out flush with the window jam you are using as the plane to hang the quilt; the post isn't perfect straight so use shims here/there to stabilize your "jamb extender" (what that thing is called) and keep it straight. Make it as wide as you want so it works with the quilt easier.
i don't' know which surface you want to use as the plane for the quilt - the inner wall or the window jamb holding the glass. Or you could make your own by using jamb extenders on all sides of the window and use _them_ to set them the depth you wanted. That might help greatly if they could be made extra wide (1-1/2"?) so the quilt would have more to seal against _and_ the "hardware" holding the quilt would have more to tie into.
IAC. Once the Jamb extenders are(is) solid, this allows you to work at a much smaller scale - Just need to cover the window light to the right of the little post. When trying to make something new, keeping the project to a manageable size can help a _lot_.
I don't see any problem adapting my idea to that window. What if you built an H with a top bar(retangular A with a square top) that will go against the wall. Use a wide board across the top and wide board down the weight side to keep the weight from banging on the wall. You have the legs to carry the weight of the assembly to the floor. In the window shown then add some spacer strips out from the wood part of the frame so the boards can rest flat on the stuco/cob. Then build the mechanism on the board frame work. Since the weight is carried on the floor you would only need mimimal screws into the framework to keep the joints sealed and keep it from tipping out and away from the window. And a long roller as long as it stayed straight would be just as easy as a short roller. For rollers I had been thinking of 4 possible answers. 1. The cardboard netwrap rolls for round balers. They are 8 feet long and about 4 inches in diameter and sag resistant if they stay dry. And I know my neighbor burns about 2 dozen of them a year so they should be free if I catch him while he is baling. 2. a log roller. Important thing here is round, constant diameter and straight. In commercial stuff peeler cores might be ideal for this. But buildable too. Straight tree trunk set up between 2 nail axles and shaped to parallel and straight. Be it draw knife or router rigged on a frame work. 3. a roller made with battens so the inside has good air flow. Probably 3 to 7 (likely 5) round spacers with say 1/4" by 1" batten sticks on edge around it to give air gaps. 4. Some sort of rigid pipe. Be it schedule 40 or heavier PVC, EMT conduit etc in a 3" or 4" diameter. At 4 inches each wrap would be over 1 foot.
Jen, Sorry for a late response to your questions. I am no expert, but I will share some of my experiences in response to your questions in hopes that these may provide some help to you and other reading your thread on these subjects.
1) window quilts from natural materials > You may wish to contact Paul Stamets about Mycelium and it's uses in this way of materials, He has done a great many studies on this, and may have a better solution than Greensulate here is one of his videos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI5frPV58tY
A: Mycelium based Greensulate is an R-3-per-inch rigid insulation >
worried about moisture and mold/insulation value.
Does anyone have experience that could speak to whether or not using a synthetic material in the window quilts for insulation and/or a vapor barrier is necessary/desirable?
A: I have lived in a couple of very drafty trailers, apartments and Houses. In an emergency, and by necessity (due to power outages resulting from Ice storm) I have found that if a draft is located by feel, fogging machine(be fire-safety minded) near the windows and doors, baseboard of walls, that the drafts could often be sealed using (of all things) plastic shopping bags inserted into the gaps and cracks using the edge of a gift card or tip of a butter knife. I don't encourage the use of plastic, but it did work for me until the warmer spring temperatures allowed for proper replacement of the plastic bags with silicone based caulking.
2) Several anecdotal accounts have mentioned that having the quilt fit inside the window frame and rest on the sill is important, since cold air between the window and the quilt can otherwise sink into the room. However, the idea of having this cold, moist air pooled on top of/behind the quilt fabric strikes me as potentially problematic, especially for natural materials. Thoughts/experiences?
A:In some of the smaller rooms that we spent most of our time during the winter to conserve heat, the moisture of our breathing and such did condensate in the windows. I do recall a friend of mine in europe had indoor window shutters that allowed air circulation but also did increase the insulation value when closed, and they did have some form of heavy window quilt or horse blanket hung over that from inside the room.
3) Also, how much is the home cooled by this cold air sinking effect versus heat lost through the window itself? One idea I came across was to use a sort of valance window quilt at the bottom of the window which rests on the sill and traps the cold air while leaving the top 3/4 of the window uncovered to allow in light. Any ideas about how effective this would actually be at preventing heat loss versus having the window fully covered?
A: have you considered whether or not an exterior cold frame like a grow box may be practical? it would allow incoming light and provide a source of insulation and solar heat. here is a youtube link th share how to build one fairly cheaply https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOwzCRpgezA
4) Any suggestions for alternatives and/or additions to window quilts are welcome. We will probably be fabricating these ourselves, so we have a fair amount of latitude in the design process (we will consider things hanging from the ceiling, multi-layered or strangely shaped things, etc.) If it is practical to do so I would also consider a plant based biodegrable plastic like corn based as a heat shrink window seal
Teach me of your sacred plants, spaces, places. Share me your songs that I may share the stories to those not yet born.
have you considered whether or not an exterior cold frame like a grow box may be practical? it would allow incoming light and provide a source of insulation and solar heat.
This is a really good idea, especially if a window faces more or less south/southwest. Sort of like a mini attached greenhouse. The heat gain in the daytime helps both the plants and the living space. The heat loss at night keeps the plants from freezing. Would take some fine tuning and monitoring with a thermometer in the exterior space, but if it was double glazed (glass or poly) with airspace I bet it would be quite effective. If the window can be opened, even better!
There is a product I have used while working on a project a couple of years ago that reflects both heat and light. A form of foil faced bubble wrap brand name = REFLECTIX.
If you are seriously considering the upscale window box, Consider purchasing a similar product or maybe if you are crafty making some. It gave me a sunburn.
While I was applying it to the exterior of a metal connex shipping container to stem the heat I considered this type of garden application as it can be shaped, plus is lightweight.
Teach me of your sacred plants, spaces, places. Share me your songs that I may share the stories to those not yet born.
I like the Greensulate idea because it is a rigid, fully insulating and air-sealing panel to cover the window. But I think it is still second best to outside storm windows. We had those made by an Amish carpenter for our 1920 house and they made a tremendous difference, and ended the inside condensation problem. They were double-pane glass units in a wood frame, but you can make them single pane if you already have double pane windows.
And add another pane of glass to those singles in the door!
Praying my way through the day
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