What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Winterizing Project #1 - Creating a Windbreak Enclosure

Sheet plastic is a good way to winterize three season sunrooms, porch areas, entrances and under decks. It is an inexpensive DIY project that can save considerably on your heating costs by blocking the effects of cold winds. While this is an inexpensive, one season solution it need not look cheap. Take your time to do a nice finishing then enjoy the energy savings.

This project is especially useful for creating air blocks, keeping the cold air from cooling poorly insulated walls and entrance ways. It will not provide insulation but the enclosed area can act as a solar heat sink depending on the location. You can maximize the heat gain by adding home made solar heaters. I'll do an article shortly on how to make these yourself. The entire area need not be enclosed to get a benefit either as long as the portion where the winter winds hit is blocked. You can also modify the application for providing a wind block for problematic windows. You can add another layer of plastic on the inside of the closure if desired. This will create a somewhat sealed air enclosure giving a little insulation value. One roll will be enough for applying for two or three years. You will need to use a fresh application but the plastic from the previous year can be used as drop cloths or recycled in other ways. Material, tools and method follow.

Interior Before & After

Our house is a two level, semi-earth bermed house on waterfront property. The first level enclosed sunporch faces west, spans almost the entire upper west wall and covers the lower level open patio. We suspect there is little insulation in that wall that will be corrected when we renovate the sunporch. We wanted to use this room for entertaining as a smoking area during the winter months. At the same time we wanted to preserve the view (1) but want to wait until spring before we start any renovations on the sunporch. So we really wanted a temporary, inexpensive winterizing solution.

We enclosed all three sides of the sunporch including the door on the outside. Once the plastic was up (2) there was a small effect on the view but for the most part it isn't intrusive. We may put a second layer of the plastic inside that would affect the view more if we feel it will help. Essentially this was installed as an effective windbrake to prevent the cold winds from hitting the upper west wall. This wall will get the late afternoon sun so the space will provide solar heat gain for that area. The patio doors leading to the sunporch can be left open during sunny spells allowing the heat into the upper level.


The plastic (green arrow) was installed around the outer three walls of the sunporch using a staple gun. The door was covered separately so it could still be used during the winter months. Once the plastic was secured, strips of 1" x 2" (red arrow) were screwed around the perimeter of each wall of the sunporch. This will prevent the plastic tearing from the staples during higher winds and give the plastic a finished look.

The overall effect was immediate. It was a very windy day when the guys were on ladders installing the plastic. The games room opens into the sunporch via patio doors. Just by blocking the wind, the games room warmed up even though the furnace wasn't on. However, the real effect came when the sun hit the sunporch. We opened the patio doors to let the free heat pour into the house. As the temperature drops we will be able to enjoy the free solar gain and energy savings.

DIY: A novice DIYer could complete this project.

1 roll medium mil clear plastic
1" x 2" x 8' wood strips
1 ¾" screws

utility knife
screw driver (cordless works nicely!)
ladder (depending on location)
hand saw
tape measure

Garden Gnome
© 2007