Our Green Gurus

Guest bloggers share all you need to know to lead a greener lifestyle.

My winter bubble

Air Tight and Insulated

Sticking bubble wrap to a glass window is a cheap and easy way to improve a room's insulation.

Credit: Joel Burgess

Rubber and Brush Door Seals

You can buy door and window seals at most hardware stores in lengths up to about two metres.

Credit: Joel Burgess

Caulking Gun

Use a sealant and caulking gun to fill breezy gaps around windows and skirting boards.

Credit: Joel Burgess

Bubble Wrap Window Insulation

A light spray of water is all that's needed to make the bubble wrap stick to the windowpane.

Credit: Joel Burgess

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By Joel Burgess, Green Lifestyle magazine intern

I have an old hand-me-down oil heater in my room that I dislike intensely. It uses about the same amount of power as a toaster but takes a lot longer to heat up. I yearn to relinquish its necessity, yet every year I seem to underestimate just how chilly winter is. This month my electricity bill doubled. As my bank account already has a tendency to fluctuate around zero, buying a more eco-friendly heater isn’t an immediate option.

When I read an article on insulation in Green Lifestyle’s June/July issue I was surprised to learn just how much space there is for air to escape around doors and through cracks. This was my first priority. I went to the hardware shop where they suggested I use long rubber strips called weather stripping to seal the gaps around doors and windows. They come in different widths so you don’t jam the door. For the base of the door you can use door brushes/snakes. I also bought some sealant for the cracks between the slats in my roof and any other miscellaneous places my precious warmth could escape. This took me a few hours and stopped the cold gusts from rustling my hair at night but my room was still cold.

For those who rent and have to keep house alterations to a minimum, creativity is paramount. I contacted Green Renters which offers advice on inexpensive, low impact ways of utilising your energy and water. They suggested I use bubble wrap on the windows. Initially I wasn’t sure. It seemed too simple and inexpensive to actually work but there was plenty of support for it on the internet and it was too easy not to try.

Armed with my recycled bubble blanket from the skip of a nearby factory (Officeworks also sells a partially biodegradable version for under $10), I approached my cold cave with a rekindled admiration for the neglected crackly plastic. As much as I would like to glorify the journey of installing this insulation, I can’t. It was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done.

I cut the plastic into the shapes of the windowpanes, sprayed a light mist of water onto the glass and put on the bubble wrap. It has been up for two weeks without any slipping or peeling. Sure, it's not the most aesthetically pleasing aspect of your room, but it only takes seconds to peel it off and you can reapply it anytime. The only debate is which side of the bubble wrap to press to the glass: flat side or bubbles? Bubbles to the glass would be slightly better at insulating as it traps a layer of air, but it is much harder to apply. This option requires sticky tape to hold it up.

The most uplifting aspect of the process is that it works! Bubble wrap theoretically halves the rate standard windows leak heat. The real proof, though, is that I don’t hyperventilate when I get into bed any more.

There’s even a silver lining: I may be able to retire my heater until I can afford a less demanding model.