Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Old man winter

About two years ago, we ordered new windows for our place here in the South End.
That’s not as large of a purchase as you’d think since we have just three proper windows. We also have a glass brick window (three bricks wide and three tall, so it’s a rectangle) and we have our back door which is nothing but glass.

The windows dated back to when this brownstone was renovated, or possibly to the second round of renovations. Regardless they were at least 20 years old and probably older so they did very little to keep out the cold or the heat, had no storm windows and no screens either.

We'd ordered the windows right before we flooded, and they got replaced during the reconstruction. Even then, before we were able to move back in, we could tell how much more efficient the new windows were and are.

So that’s a passive bit of winterizing we do. The active bit involves our stairs to the first floor.

Our place
In Boston, all apartments and condos must have two ways to escape. That code is to protect people from getting trapped in their homes in case of fire. We use our glass door, the one that leads out to the patio, about 99% of the time. It comes straight into our living area but more important, we have just three locks to undo: the patio gate, the iron grate and the door itself and they all use the same key.

Our second entrance is at the top of the stairs, which leads to the street level door. When we do use that door, we have to unlock our door, the common foyer door (which has two locks) and the iron gate (all that takes two keys). Yes, this is the same common foyer that the Ferals like to store extraneous microwaves and dressers in. Apparently they do not understand what being a good neighbor means.

As you can imagine, the stairs act as nothing more than a giant heat suck or chimney. That’s great in the summer, we like it that the hot air collects up at the top of the stairs. It’s not so great in the winter.

So I’ve hung the curtains to enclose the stairs. It’s surprising how much difference those two el cheapo curtains from Ikea make. Not only does the heat stay downstairs where it belongs, I also don’t feet a chilly breeze coming down the stairs.



FreshHell said...

We have a similar set of stairs in the back of our family room that leads into the unusable basement. There had been a half wall and NO doors. Not one at the bottom, not one at the top (due to the half wall). We had a full wall built a few years ago with a door. Still keep the curtain down at the bottom of the stairs, just because. it's much toastier upstairs now. Winter still sucks, though.

lemming said...

Any change in season reminds me that downstairs is much easier to regulate temperature-wise than upstairs.

kittiesx3 said...

Yeah I broke down and turned the heat on today. It's not all that cold outside but once the cave cools off, we stay chilly in here without heat. That's really helpful in the summer, well that and the grotto aka the heat sink, but less so this time of year.

Jeanne said...

The curtains are ingenious. I sometimes go for the kind of plastic sheets you blow-dry onto big windows, but curtains are nicer.

kittiesx3 said...

I'm especially pleased with how I got the side panel to stick to the wall. I found some super strong sticky Velcro squares--the soft side is on the wall and the prickly side is on the curtain.