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How can I keep my apartment warmer?  RSS feed

 
travis laduke
Posts: 163
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What will make the most difference? I can't do anything permanent because I'm not the owner. 

There are two rooms I care about being warm: the living room and the bedroom.
The ceiling/roof is 1x8s with shingles on top. No insulation at all. I'm pretty sure this was a barn or something when it was first made.

Thicker curtains on all the windows?
Tack blankets to the ceiling?

The living room has a gas wall-furnace thing that I don't like to use and a ceiling fan.
I have a couple space heaters.


 
Brice Moss
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
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umm
1)clear plastic over all the windows (harware stores have kits for this)
2)tapesties and other wall hanging on outside walls make a diference
3)a heating pad right under your butt
4) wearing a thick terry cloth robe
5)you can hang long insulated curtians or blankets to cut off airflow
6) I love my electric matress pad. love it a lot the house can be 45 degrees at night and I'm snug as a bug in bed
7) go out and split some wood, best thing about wood heat it gets you warm twice, not having wood heat any hard work out in the cold will suffice to get a body pumping out heat
if you're gonna be in the place a couple years some owners will buy stuff for you to do upgrades if you can convince them you're up for it, most the places I rented were nicer when I moved out than when I moved in because of this
9) look here http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/4906_0/alternative-energy/making-the-best-of-electric-heat
 
travis laduke
Posts: 163
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I've been reading that thread too. I'm waiting on Paul's heating pad and electric reviews... I don't want to buy a junk electric blanket that will only last a year or that cycles on and off or only runs for 30 minutes...

Need some tapestries...
To the thriftstore!
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I think decent curtains make a big diiference.
They don't have to look fancy: the most important things are thick and layers as  they're all about trapping air.
Old woollen blankets are great. Another important thing is make them long. Like brushing the floor long.
My final curtain recommendation is make/get pelmets. Whoever decided that they're old-fashioned and must be replaced with something 'slimline' and 'unobtrusive' probably owned a power company!
 
David Glenn
Posts: 34
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A few ideas and a story

Goodwill or thrift stores often have used bedding in the form of quilts/comforters hang as curtains or wall coverings light color in.

Fiberglass insulation in ceiling, cover with painters canvas stapled to 2x8s (heavy is best) still cheaper than high electric or gas bills, or more quilts?

Check out the Mylar covered bubble wrap or similar materials relatively cheap and R factor of 5-10, Use on ceiling,walls

My story
I was given a 40' semi trailer that I decided to convert to a RV/Motor home when I separated from my significant other.  I've been making slow progress but its livable, we had a cold snap come through a couple of weeks ago and I found that insulation works both ways.  My metal box was like a refrigerator with out any real heat source in it and I hadn't installed the propane furnace.  Being the DIY type a friend suggested I check out the RMH, deciding that it looked like the thing to me, I built one sized for the space I had.

The RMH I built is small, using a 20 Gal drum with the box and chimney made out of SS insulated with rock wool (2" on the chimney) then surrounded with brick. This thing is portable
Lack of space didn't seem to allow for a heat sink so went with just radiant heat, this works kinda OK but doesn't do anything about long term (through the night) warmth.
Solution I came up with was to do away with my bed frame and box spring and build a raised platform/box 18" high for my mattress with a 12"sand bed under it
for the heat sink/thermal mass using vent holes to allow radiant heating of the room (using computer cooling fans in the base to force circulate the air)  finishing up design and will start assembly next week.

The RMH dimensions W-18" H-36" L-32"  Weight is approx 50# not counting the bricks which are loose.

Something similar may work for your situation maybe making a large coffee table or a sitting bench your heat sink /thermal mass

Good luck

David
 
                                        
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A canopy bed can help keep you comfortable at night.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canopy_bed

Sleeping bags are relatively cheap at big box stores and can be used for window coverings, door blockers or other draft blockers, and you can build a "tent" over your bed.
 
Len Ovens
pollinator
Posts: 1452
Location: Vancouver Island
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travis laduke wrote:
What will make the most difference? I can't do anything permanent because I'm not the owner. 


You're in L.A.? How cold does it get? I live a lot farther north on the same coast, I would think socks and a sweater (keep the ankles and wrists warm) would do it.


There are two rooms I care about being warm: the living room and the bedroom.
The ceiling/roof is 1x8s with shingles on top. No insulation at all. I'm pretty sure this was a barn or something when it was first made.

Thicker curtains on all the windows?
Tack blankets to the ceiling?


Ceiling first, insulating the ceiling would do about the same as filling a 6ft hole in the wall (closing the outside door as in).


The living room has a gas wall-furnace thing that I don't like to use and a ceiling fan.
I have a couple space heaters.


The best fix I have found for space heaters is to take an extension cord and cut it in half (the half mark being where you want it) and putting in an electrical box (I use the plastic ones). I then install a thermostat (the timer ones are best, but anything will do that works with baseboard heaters). This lets you control the heat at a distance from the heater and tends to make for more even heating. The green wires connect together with a mar and the white wires connect together with a mar and the black wires go to either side of the thermostat... simple. If you don't get the timer thermostat, plug the cord into a wall timer so you can auto turn it off for the times you are not there/using that room. Use the low heat setting but turn the temp on the unit all the way up so that your external thermostat controls it. 400 watts should keep 100sqft room warm enough even below freezing, it does here (don't run it at 1400watts, even 700watts is too much, but with portables you may not have much choice).

But really the big thing is to get used to living in a colder/hotter room. The body can take it, people lived in colder regions of the world for thousands of years with no fires, but they did have furs. In any case the living room will want to be warmer(20C) than the bedroom(17C).
 
travis laduke
Posts: 163
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Len wrote:
You're in L.A.? How cold does it get? I live a lot farther north on the same coast, I would think socks and a sweater (keep the ankles and wrists warm) would do it.


Not that cold.  ops:

Last winter it got into the low 30s once or twice in the early morning and I could see my breath in my bedroom when I woke up for work. It was a foreign concept to me, living down here, but in somewhat reasonably built houses my whole life. It's like sleeping in the garage. Actually I bet in place with actual cold weather, the garages have some insulation.

It's not really that big of a deal I guess; It just makes getting out of bed early, and changing the baby unpleasant.

Here's my ceiling.
 
Len Ovens
pollinator
Posts: 1452
Location: Vancouver Island
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travis laduke wrote:
Not that cold.  ops:

Last winter it got into the low 30s once or twice in the early morning and I could see my breath in my bedroom when I woke up for work.


So about like here then. If you were thinking of putting blankets on the ceiling, how were you thinking of attaching them? I would think tacking polly over fiberglass would be a lot lighter and leave less noticeable marks when you left. Cotton cloth could cover the whole thing to look nice again tacked up (tack = stitch = staple) if your land lord was agreeable, sheetrock would look even better.


It's not really that big of a deal I guess; It just makes getting out of bed early, and changing the baby unpleasant.


not to mention increasing the probability of getting pee in the eye from a cold baby We have managed to keep our master bedroom at 19C (68F) with only 250watts worth of heat (12 x 14 ft). We do have better insulation (r20 I don't think anyone thought of more 25 years ago)


Here's my ceiling.



Measure the temperature when it is cold outside of the wood midway between the beams and compare to the temp of the wood where the beams meet it. That should give you some idea if there is any insulation at all. The first reading higher than the second would indicate some insulation or dead space.
 
                        
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Wondering about your floor..if it was a garage/barn  before its new life as an apartment it may have a concrete floor with no insulation between it and your floor. Often people give away carpet when they are remodelling, or it can be found very cheaply through the pennysaver or whatever it's called in your area.(or maybe Craig's List?) Carpet IS more hassle to look after than a wood or hard floor but can make quite a difference in how comfortable your house is..I have no empirical data but it seems  in my house at least, as heat rises, it pulls cold air through the floor. Slippers help, but a slight breeze around the ankles isn't the most pleasant of things in the dead of winter. Also, not the best of things for the baby, who likely spends some time on the floor. Often there is a draft beneath the outside door..a fabric sausage or even just a heavy  folded towel rolled against the bottom of the door will help a lot in that case.
Bubble wrap is a great idea(imo) for the ceiling as it is light enough to be covered even with a sheet..you probably don't want to look up at plastic or insulation in your living room. Sheets are easilly simply stapled which won't leave any noticeable marks on the beams..you could run them across or even just between the beams.
Also, check to see what drafts are coming from around the windows (as already mentioned) and your doors. Hanging a blanket or quilt in front of doorways and between rooms you are using and rooms you are not will also help to keep the heat in the room, esp if the fabric reaches the floor. Basically what you are doing is trying to make a room within the room. You want to make sure the fabric reaches the floor with a little overlap so you dont get drafts on the floor for the baby. You may need to think about how to fasten these so that when the baby is crawling about he or she doesn't grab hold and try to use the fabric to pull him/herself up with and bring it down on his/her head. Possibly you could make folding screens from rigid insulation covered with fabric. There would be nothing for the baby to grab onto and if the screen  did somehow fall, it would be light enough to do no harm.You could make your home look very Arabian or Morroccan or  Elizabethan English or perhaps Romany (as in gypsy, not Italian)or....

The idea of a sandbox under the bed as a heat sink sounded interesting..I was wondering if that idea could be used with an electric blanket running between layers of sand would work? Would there be concern about abrasion exposing wires? What about a layer of sand, a layer of blanket,  the electric blanket then another blanket and then another layer of sand? Not sure how easy the sand would be to move into and out of an apartment  though. If considering using electricity anyway ( in the form of an  electric blanket) , would  a waterbed be worth considering?
 
Rebecca Dane
Posts: 211
Location: Missoula Montana
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I think your best bet in an apartment for heating a bed would be an electric blanket, rather than hauling in sand.  I picked one up at a garage sale for $2-$3.  It has a bunch of different settings and shuts off automatically after 10 hours. 

Until temperatures get below 0 degrees I wasn't event heating my bedroom, just using my sleeping bag.  I actually got too warm in my 0 degree sleeping bag.  When it got really cold I put a space heater in and set it to turn on between 45-50 degrees, just enough to keep the pipes from freezing.  The electric blanket is perfect and if you are really chilly you can crank up the dials until you are warm, then set it down to lower setting through the night.

Since I don't spend alot of time in the bedroom during the day, I don't heat the room over 45-50 degrees.  The electric blanket goes with me to the couch where I can sit warm and work on the computer without having to heat the whole room   
 
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