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Air Insulation Resource (AIR) Energy Savings Window System Proposal

This proposal is a low-tech affordable way to save energy cost for houses with storm windows. It is hoped that church groups and local organizations will take on this proposed project to help low income persons save energy costs to heat their houses next winter.

The AIR system is based on a very simple fact that it is the air pockets between windowpanes that are the effective energy savings barrier, not the actual panes or glazings — be they glass or plastic. The principle of air pockets keeping heat from transferring from warm to cold air is the basic principle of insulation products — as hair on animals, feathers on birds or down in jackets provide insulation. It is not the form (feathers or hair) itself that is the energy barrier of insulation but the air pockets, air trapped in the hair, fur, feathers or other insulating material.

Last fall a son of an old friend of mine took on a project of insulating 12 windows in my unheated sunroom, changing the single pane windows into five pane windows by building an insert for each window — an insert that had four layers of clear plastic. You can read about this project at http://www.nonviolentworm.org/GRAF/AIR . We did some testing of the product, and my friend in Madison created a mathematical model with the same results as our test: there was significant energy savings to this method of insulation using air. The AIR fact sheet at http://www.nonviolentworm.org/GRAF/AIRFactSheet can detail these facts and the significant cost savings.

I have eight small windows in my house that have storm windows that I keep up all year around. I took one down and put a clear piece of plastic on each side, using the hair blow-dryer to tighten the two layers, and thus changed my double pane or glazing system (inside window and storm window) to a four-pane or glazing window. Using the mathematical model in the Fact Sheet, the savings is about $ 2.10 per square foot. With each window being a little over five square feet this meant a savings of about $10.50 per window or $84 for eight for the winter season. This does not count the energy savings in the summer when the air conditioning is running since these storms are up all year.

Having visited many homes with storm windows I realized that a house of only 100 square feet of wall-space insulated by this method could save the homeowner about $210 for the winter savings. Most houses with storm windows have many more square feet that could use this simple system.

This proposal is for a church or community organization in the fall to have persons bring their winter storm windows in for a few hours. An insulation kit consisting of 62 X 200 rolls of clear plastics, double sided tapes and cleaning fluid can be purchased retails for about $14. This would cover about 83 square feet. For severe weather conditions I put clear cold-weather tape around the plastic for extra protection. The tape is inexpensive. So for less than 40 cents per square foot a person can get about $2.10 of energy savings.

These window coverings can be left on the storm window when it is taken down in the spring and reused again in the window. My 12 five-pane window inserts are stored on hanging hooks in my basement, waiting till next year. The outside layers of plastic might need a cleaning but they are ready to go for many years.

Some kind of arrangements for elderly and persons with disabilities could be made to bring in their storm windows. Each window takes one or two persons about 10–15 minutes to insulate. The only tools needed are an blow-dryer and scissors.

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Page last modified on October 20, 2008

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